Sondheim Prize gala

The Baltimore Sun

People may come to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see the work of many internationally renowned artists, but a recent gathering there was to celebrate local talent.

Six area artists, all finalists in the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize competition, had work on display in a BMA exhibition. That work was the focus of attention for several hundred guests who wandered the galleries, many chatting with the artists themselves.

Meanwhile, the museum's Fox Court was jammed with folks, enjoying music, drinks and hors d'oeuvres. In the case of Howard County art teacher Evan Lalonde, Charm City Cakes cake decorator Ben Turner and Bolton Hill preschool teacher Heidi Gustafson, it was time to toast their friend Geoff Grace, who had just been announced the winner of the competition's $25,000 prize.

"It's awesome. Geoff deserves this more than anybody," Gustafson exclaimed.

In another corner of the room, Downtown Partnership public relations director Mike Evitts commiserated with his friends.

"We had a friend who was actually a finalist, and she didn't win," he said.

"I liked them all," Baltimore interior designer Richard Taylor said. "I think this is a great opportunity for young artists."

"It's so much fun to see new artists, and new work, too," said SunTrust Bank executive coach Suzan Garabedian.

"And it's fun looking at all of the art beforehand - of the six artists - and picking your favorite," added arts consultant Michael Ross.

"I think it's a wonderful tribute to the arts in Baltimore," said public relations consultant Edie Brown, as she scanned the mix of young and old - artists and arts supporters - that filled the room.

"It shows we're really on the cutting edge."


Sloane Browne takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at

A drink with Lenny Kaplan

Ketel One vodka straight up with a twist at Gertrude's

Though it's been six years since Lenny Kaplan, 71, left the restaurant business, he's still one of Baltimore's best-known restaurateurs. Among the businesses that he and his wife, Gail Kaplan, have owned and run: Pimlico Restaurant, Classic Catering, Lenny's Chop House and the Polo Grill. The Kaplans live in Baltimore and have three adult children and six grandchildren.

You obviously know food, so what's your favorite?

It's a balance. It would potentially be a great hot corned beef sandwich at Attman's [Deli], but it's also calf's liver, sweetbreads, things I can't eat. Kills my cholesterol. Anything that is dangerous to my health, I love. Including attractive women.

What else do you know really well?

I know a lot of opera. I'm really an opera degenerate. When I go home, I turn on opera immediately.

What are some of your favorite things?

Favorite movie: John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. My favorite drink is vodka. It used to be gin until my old customer Joe Levitt said, "Gin will harden your liver. Don't drink it." Favorite opera: Tristan and Isolde. Close second is everyone's all time favorite, La Boheme. Favorite model: Kate Moss. Favorite conservative: William Buckley. Favorite semi-liberal: Tom Friedman. Favorite politician: FDR. Favorite actress: Ingrid Bergman. Favorite actor: Paul Muni. Favorite sex symbol: Brigitte Bardot. Favorite woman: Gail Kaplan.


Read more about the conversation with Lenny Kaplan at

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