Monday, December 30, 2013


On December 11th, at the Mark Borghi Fine Art gallery on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, the Center for Creative Education (CCE) staged its “Three Ring Cocktails” reception to kick-off the organization’s annual fundraiser. Creative Education board member and event ringmaster Bruce Helander –unmistakeable in a bright orange top hat– teamed up with co-chairs and mother­–daughter duo, Donna Long and Wendy Fritz, to toast plans for “Circus at the Center,” taking place on January 28th at the CCE’s new home in the hip Northwood Village. In addition to the kick-off event chairmen, there was over 75 partygoers, including committee members, board members and event sponsors Carl Bartel, Cheryl Gowdy, Vicki Halmos, Robert Hamon, Kenn Karakul, Wyatt Koch, Tim and Susan Malloy, Talbott Maxey, Ross Meltzer, Brad and Pamela Miller, Jim Pappas, and Butch and Melinda Trucks.

Merging art with academics, the Center for Creative Education helps children from low-income neighborhoods learn science, math, literacy and other areas of knowledge through engaging, hands-on projects. “Visual, performing and language arts enhance a student’s knowledge of traditional subjects,” says CEO of CCE Robert Hamon, “so painting, music and dance are used to increase a child’s grasp of literacy, math and science.” The nonprofit organization relies on grants and donations from private individuals and community organizations to support its efforts. Last year, the Center worked with over 12,500 “at-risk” children from nearly 70 schools in Palm Beach County, providing both after-school and in-school programming.

Billed as the greatest little party on earth, Circus at the Center will be a fresh take on the “Over the Big Top” benefits CCE has thrown in the past. Revelers are invited to dress in “circus chic” for an evening of great food, dancing and circus-themed entertainment. Helander says, “The party will start with cocktails and the magic will build from there.”  Moreover, designer Bruce Sutka has been enlisted to transform the newly opened Center with a zany circus feel.

Nothing less can be expected from a gathering of artists, especially with the ever-colorful Helander at the helm. A well-established collage artist, curator and a writer for The Huffington Post, the host has created an original collage illustration for the event, painting the tone of the fun evening ahead.   A limited edition gicléeprint, hand-embellished by Helander, will be for sale, with all net proceeds benefiting CCE. Circus at the Center co-chair, philanthropist and horsewoman Donna Long has also led a vivid life as an artist.   A renowned photographer and painter, the Palm Beach resident’s work is currently on display at ArtHouse429 near the new CCE building in Northwood.

Altogether, the three co-chairmen, along with honorary chair Jane Holzer, are leading a host committee comprising Maribel Alvarez, Carl Bartel, Harry and Gigi Benson, Beau and Jackie Breckenridge, Gordon and Jane Brown, Peter Burrus, Susie Dwinell, William Eubanks, Paul and Irina Fisher, Cheryl Gowdy, William Halliday, Vicki Halmos, Claudia Helander, Michael and Eleanora Kennedy, Margaret Luce, Hillary Matchett, Emily Dimaggio, Tim and Susan Malloy, Blanche McCoun, Ross Meltzer, Pamela Miller, Pamela O’Connor, Jim Pappas, Georgia Pappas, Jillian Percella, Allison Reckson, Lisa Rowan, Edwina Sandys and Richard Kaplan, Linda and Jared Soper, Bruce Sutka, Butch and Melinda Trucks, Michele Vogel, Lauri Welteroth and Lynne Wise Smith.  Junior host committee members Amanda Boalt, Jack Elkins, Camila Helander, Wyatt Koch, Morgan O’Connor, India Paull, Tyler Sargent and Ben Stein will also be in attendance.  Event sponsors are the Liman Foundation, Palm Beach Media Group, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Mark Borghi Fine Arts, Onli Beverages and Wilmington Trust.

A must-attend event for a worthy cause, Circus at the Center invites all for a night of crazy festivities and childish delight! Tickets are $275 for individuals and $500 for couples. Click here to buy your tickets or here to learn more about the organization.



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by Debbie BancroftPhotographed by Griffin Lipson and Hunter Abrams/BFA.com