LCVA’s gala takes inspiration from 1960s’ jet set

Published 7:04 pm Sunday, March 3, 2024

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The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts’ (LCVA) biennial gala, the best attended event of its kind in the region, returns with a splash on Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.

This year’s theme, Aqualuxe, is inspired by 1960s jet set photographer Slim Aarons’ iconic photographs of pool side parties in Palm Beach, Palm Springs, and the Mediterranean.

Attendees are encouraged to take to the dance floor in Longwood University’s Blackwell Ballroom that evening in the vibrant prints and lighter weight fabrics that defined the era.

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Aqualuxe is presented by Green Front Furniture this year with Mindy and Nash Osborn serving as Co-Chairpersons. Shirley Blackwell has been named Honorary Chairwoman in appreciation for her decades long support of the LCVA.

The Osborns have long been involved in area community organizations, including the LCVA where Mindy Osborn serves on its advisory board. 

“We are honored to serve as co-chairpersons for the 2024 LCVA Auqualuxe gala. Supporting the LCVA contributes to their outreach programs in our community as well as surrounding areas. Through these programs and other partnerships, the LCVA provides premium access to all who wish to experience art in a meaningful way,” says Nash Osborn. 

Mindy Osborne adds, “The Arts have a way of connecting us all and breaking down barriers as they provide a universal language that spans generations.” 

A look at the impact

LCVA executive director Rachel Talent Ivers summarized the impact of the gala, remarking, “The LCVA gala is incredibly important to us – it provides the primary source of programming revenue for the museum. Because of the generosity of our supporters, we can ensure meaningful experiences for all segments of our community. Our 2022 gala raised more than $250,000 in a single night, which provided funding for the museum over the next two years.”

As in the past, gala partiers will enjoy an elegant evening of food, drink, live music and dancing – this year with the funk/pop/R & B stylings of Richmond’s J. Tucker & the Krewe. A live auction and prize package drawings complement the entertainment. Gala sponsors and their ticketed guests also enjoy early access at 6 p.m. for an exclusive sponsors-only reception that includes the gala’s latest signature cocktail created by Sandy River Distillery. The popular late night to-go coffee bar returns for those revelers who want to carry their dance floor energy out with them at the end of the evening.

Some changes this year

The 2024 gala also has had several changes behind the scenes. “Our previous galas were organized by a large gala committee with several subcommittees,” explains Ivers. “While successful, the format is by its nature a time intensive process. The museum is undergoing its national reaccreditation with the American Alliance of Museums this year as well and we were faced with the challenge of managing two major projects concurrently.” Rather than postpone the gala while museum staff focused on reaccreditation – the LCVA is one of only 5% nationally accredited academic museums – the LCVA brainstormed alternatives that would allow them to do both. After discussion with the Osborns, long time sponsors as well as this year’s co-chairpersons, the museum decided to depart from the traditional steering committee format this year. Instead veteran gala décor committee member Shannon Friedman (Shannon Friedman Interiors) joined the Osborns in leading the creative direction for the event. Candy Dowdy and Navona Hart, former gala chairpersons, joined Ivers and LCVA Director of Community Engagement Lisa Tharpe to spearhead sponsorship efforts. “We still have need of a committee this year, but it will be focused on implementation of the vision Shannon, Nash and Mindy have for the event,” Ivers remarked.

In describing the Aqualuxe aesthetic, Friedman notes, “This year’s gala theme is a nod to beach resorts of yesteryear with influences from famed photographer Slim Aarons, vibrant colors of coastal cabanas and the glamour of the iconic geographical elements of destinations such as the South of France, Palm Beach and Palm Springs, respectively.” For those attendees looking for direction in what to wear, she suggests, “This is an opportunity to embrace vibrant colors and patterns such as those from the 60s in warmer climates. Vintage inspiration can be drawn from caftans to shift dresses for the ladies and patterned and colorful suits/blazers/trousers for the men. White dinner jackets with even an ascot would also be appropriate for an elevated look. Retro images from Lilly Pulitzer can serve as wonderful  inspiration. Accessorizing for both men and women can be a fun chance to highlight the boldness of the beachy but glamorous era of that time.”

Some sponsorship changes 

Sponsorship efforts are also taking a different form this year. Past sponsors and donors were invited to one of several of cocktail parties this past fall in an effort to secure early commitments from past attendees before fully opening sponsorship opportunities. “Priority access to sponsorship is one of the benefits our past gala sponsors receive. This is important because table sponsors make reservations based on date of commitment,” explains Tharpe.

Both sponsorship and tickets will be available for purchase online this year as well.

Sponsorships begin at $500, with a very limited number of reserved tables available starting at $750. Individual tickets are $135; one-hour early entry packages for two are $285. All sponsorships and tickets include unlimited food, drink, and a gift benefit amount that may be tax deductible. Those interested in sponsoring can contact the LCVA for additional details or buy sponsorships and tickets online at

Aqualuxe Presenting sponsors Green Front Furniture/Dickie and Den Cralle are joined by Lead Sponsors Alliemarie Co/Hibernia Health; Luther and Anastasiia Cifers/Lex on Main; Haley Automall/Chris and Melissa Call; and Helton House/Ed and Mike Helton.