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Maryland Institute College of Art

The Baltimore Sun

When it comes to singing the praises of someone, there was a full symphony in honor of Fred Lazarus, courtesy of some 200 friends and supporters.

They had gathered at the Tide Point offices of Ayers/Saint/Gross to surprise Lazarus and celebrate his 30 years as president of Maryland Institute College of Art.

"First of all, he's a genius. And second of all, he re-invents himself every five years. He's brought all these great innovative ideas into how art is taught," explained MICA board chair Fredye Gross, who was co-host for the party with husband Adam Gross.

"He turned a small regional art school into the leading art school in the United States with international application," noted immediate past board chair Neil Meyerhoff.

"He's so gifted. And he's done so much to make MICA such a fantastic place," added Rheda Becker, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra narrator.

"He's a dear friend and wonderful role model for college presidents," said University of Maryland Baltimore County president Freeman Hrabowski.

Meanwhile, the man of the hour gazed around the crowded room looking a tad shell-shocked. as his wife - landscape architect Jonna Lazarus - was congratulated for getting him to the party without tipping him off.

"I had no idea. I thought I was going to a quick little board reception ... and here all these people were," he exclaimed. "I'm thrilled. It's really neat."

Stars in his eyes at Sundance Maryland Film Festival founder Jed Dietz got in a little celebrity sightseeing along with all the movies he saw at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Dietz says he saw Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan at one screening, and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at another.

And then there was the "most outrageous" question-and-answer session that Dietz says he's ever witnessed - that following Bobcat Goldthwaite's new movie World's Greatest Dad. The two folks taking all the questions? Goldthwaite - who wrote and directed the film - and his star Robin Williams.

"The normal Q-and-A goes about 20 to 30 minutes. This one had to go at least an hour. It was uproarious all the way through," he said. Unfortunately, none of the jokes would quite fit in a family newspaper.

Closest encounter of the celestial kind? When Dietz was chatting with documentary filmmaker Doug Pray, Dietz says he suddenly felt himself pushed aside. He turned and there was Sundance's big cheese himself, Robert Redford.

"I don't think he was trying to be mean," Dietz explains. "I think he was just eager to talk to Doug."

Dark Humor The Baltimore Architecture Foundation never lets an empty, unheated building stand in the way of a good party. In fact, that's part of the criteria for its annual Groundhog Day celebration. Last weekend, the group threw the bash at the Gaslight Square development in Carroll Camden Industrial Park. John Gutierrez says he and fellow organizers hauled in heaters, set up food buffets and brought in a band. Some 150 friends and supporters showed up.

Gutierrez says the event committee also decided they might as well have a little fun with the economic downturn. So, they designed Depression-era style signs above the food stations - each of which was sponsored by different members.

You had "Ed Hord's Chicken Shack" and "Walter (Schamu) Gets the Gout Out Oysters." And then there was Gutierrez's offerings of soup and starch: "Architect's Hard Times Bread Line."

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