La belle époque comes alive for Ritz

“Fox River Valley”

“Fox River Valley”

To students of art and culture, la belle époque — the beautiful era — in late 19th century Paris represented the height of French culture during the Industrial Revolution and before World War I. Grand architectural marvels like the Eiffel Tower and the infamous nightclub, the Moulin Rouge, were symbols of a period of cultural exuberance.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Wasabi’s for the Pratt Museum’s annual gala fundraiser, that period comes alive with “Ritz at the Moulin Rouge.” As depicted by the artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the period featured men in top hats and tails and dancers like La Goulue and Jane Avril in petticoat skirts showing a bit of leg in the can-can.

Tickets are $100, on sale through Friday or until sold out at the Homer Bookstore and the Pratt Museum.

As with other Ritz galas, guests are encouraged to dress in the costume theme, though it’s not necessary, said Pratt development director Michelle Miller. Costume prizes are offered for both volunteers and guests. 

The menu features French cuisine, such as pâté de fois de poulet, saumon niçoise de baguette crostini and amandine de fletan — that’s chicken liver pate, smoked salmon with olives on a baquette and halibut amandine.

Guests can preview art to be auctioned both live and silently from 5-9 p.m. Friday at Wasabi’s. Pieces include works by some of Homer and Alaska’s finest artists.

One standout piece, “Breakup,” a porcelain clay sculpture by Halibut Cove artist Annette Bellamy, is too delicate to be moved. Bellamy describes her piece as “stark white porcelain floating in air much like the patterns of broken pan ice floating on the surface of the water.”

The auction also includes experiences, such as a Hallo Bay Bear Experience tour for two to Lake Clark and Katmai National Park. Two unusual experiences are a guided hike for two by Seldovia explorers Erin McKittrick and Bret Higman and a horseback ride for two by Alaska Draft Horse. McKittrick and Higman, who recently circumnavigated Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet with their two small children, will take hikers on a tour of their choice, possibly to their secret route at the head of Tutka Bay.

Bay Excursions provides water transportation. 

Alaska Draft Horse will take riders into the Chakok Valley near Anchor Point on a Percheron draft horse.

Other adventures include round-trip tickets for two on Era Alaska to anywhere the airline flies in Alaska, including Point Hope, Kaktovik, Barrow and Cordova.

Items to be auctioned include a custom opal pendant donated by Aurora Gems, and a magnum of Silver Oak Alexander cabernet wine donated by the Grog Shop.

“All the proceeds raised at the Ritz at Moulin Rouge will be devoted to the educational programs and fine exhibits offered at your award-winning Pratt Museum,” said Miller.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

by Marian Beck.

by Marian Beck.

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