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Matthew Mahan, Jaxie Alt, Lindsay Mahan

The Nature Conservancy in Texas announces $298,000 was raised at their annual fundraiser, the Dallas Spring Party, heldon Friday, April 15, 2016 at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.     

Honorary chairs Jane and Pat Bolin were joined by 286 guests for A Brush with Nature: Alex Beard’s Adventures in Art, Travel and Conservation, which began with a reception at 6:00 p.m. outside on the Ginsburg Plaza. As musician “Red” performed, partygoers mingled over cocktails, including the evening’s signature cocktail, Coastal Breeze, and hors d’oeuvres while getting a sneak peek at artist Alex Beard’s original art work on display, which was up for bidding for one lucky winner.  A reception highpoint were the wild birds brought by Window to the Wild co-founders Lindsey and Simon McNeny including a great horned owl, screech owl, kestrel and Harris’s hawk.

At the appointed time, attendees progressed into Rosine Hall for the seated dinner.  Dining tables were dressed with linens in the evening’s signature color, green, with centerpieces of paint cans filled with hydrangeas and accented with paint brushes in honor of the evening’s theme, “A Brush with Nature.”  Guests began a salad course of shingled red and gold heirloom tomatoes, organic field greens, and asparagus spears with champagne vinaigrette, while viewing a short video highlighting the Conservancy’s work.  Laura Huffman, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, followed with a brief welcome, a thank you to all in attendance and an update on conservation in Texas.

Dinner resumed with an entrée of tenderloin with wild mushroom demi-glace, sautéed tiger shrimp with lemon beurre blanc, whipped potatoes, roasted root vegetables and warm rolls, followed by a dessert trio of mini molten chocolate cake with bing cherry, mini crème brulee ginger cookie and a lemon bar. 

As guests finished their dessert, Ms. Huffman returned to introduce guest speaker, Alex Beard, painter and illustrator, adventurer, best-selling author, world traveler, filmmaker and animal conservationist.  Beard captivated the audience with stories of his upbringing in New York and experiences with his uncle Peter Beard, the acclaimed wildlife photographer and conservationist, and his mother, Patricia Beard, an accomplished author and magazine editor, who both encouraged his interest in art and nature.

Utilizing photographs from his early travels as a youth in Africa to his travels today throughout the world, Beard shared his long-standing interest in conservation which inspired not only his work, but also his current efforts in conservation through his own foundation, The Watering Hole Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered wildlife and the environments in which they live. 

From his love of nature, Beard began drawing and painting at an early age, telling the crowd about creating his first drawing meant for a frame at the age of seven. He has that work framed in his studio today.  As the creator of a unique method of painting called “abstract naturalism,” Beard spoke about his work as a combination of abstract expressionism and naturalist environmental art.  As an example of his style, Beard’s Moonrise Over the Roosting Tree, which he had created exclusively for the evening, was displayed at the front of the room.  Beard encouraged all to bid, with proceeds benefiting The Nature Conservancy in Texas and The Watering Hole Foundation. 

Beard then answered questions from the audience, which included inquiries about his art work and the inspiration behind each piece, his recent travels and interest in conservation, and the current conservation efforts of his foundation. 

Following remarks, patrons returned to the Ginsburg Plaza for post-dinner cocktails featuring music by “Red.”  As guests departed, they received cookies frosted with the Dallas Spring Party logo.

Dallas Spring Party attendees included, honorary chairs Jane and Pat Bolin; Laura Huffman, state director, The Nature Conservancy in Texas; Lyda Hill; Emily and David Corrigan; Peggy Dear; Suzanne and David Holl; State Senator Don Huffines and Mary Catherine Huffines; Trisha Wilson and Jeb Terry; Jeanne and Berry Cox; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; Ann and Matt Schooler; and Vera and Bob Thornton.

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