A Prize for a Local Treasure

Contemporary artist Jim Sanborn remembers driving past the Kreeger mansion on Foxhall Road NW when he was a teen back in the 1960s. He craned his neck to see the facade's huge marble slabs while the house was being built, and he recalled his disappointment when that big iron fence was put up. "I never thought I'd be invited over for dinner," said Sanborn, 59. "I just wish my parents could see this."

No doubt his parents would be impressed that Sanborn was nibbling on lamb and mushroom risotto among the great marble pillars of the Kreeger Museum's main hall Saturday night at a black-tie gala. But far more impressive is that 150 of Washington's greatest art makers, patrons and enthusiasts were gathered there in honor of Sanborn -- the first recipient of the Kreeger Artist Award established for the museum's 10th anniversary.

"I think that the prize he is receiving is indeed the prize that belongs to him," said independent curator Milena Kalinovska. "The selection of Jim Sanborn is so perfect because he reflects the time and temperature of art right now."

A current of electricity seemed to run through the lower galleries during cocktail hour as guests sipped wine and mingled amid works by Sanborn, Frank Stella and Gene Davis. In a town filled with works by great (albeit dead) artists, the crowd at the Kreeger seemed excited and relieved that a living one was being recognized with a $10,000 grant.

"The whole thing is to give it to someone in mid-career but who is already influential," said Alan Fern, former director of the National Portrait Gallery and a member of the five-person jury who selected Sanborn. "Young artists are following what he is doing, and that is very important."

Honoring Survivors And Their Great Gifts

Living history, in the truest sense of the term, was the focus of Thursday's dinner hosted by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The event at the Mandarin Oriental hotel honored the 73 Holocaust survivors who have volunteered to share their life stories with museum visitors. Museum Director Sara Bloomfield said, "Can you imagine -- people treated with such hate who rebuilt their lives with such love?" The audience of 280 included actor Stanley Tucci (who starred in "Conspiracy," the HBO film on the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which was instrumental in implementing the Final Solution), NPR's Scott Simon and CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The museum's council reiterated its call for an end to genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan as Tucci reminded the audience, "If the conscience stops functioning -- even momentarily -- one is in mortal danger of losing oneself."

At National Geographic, 'Incredibles' and Edibles

"They're getting antsy," said Pat Stern. "I think we should start soon." A capacity crowd of 385 rambunctious children and their parents waited anxiously outside of the National Geographic Society's theater yesterday for the Washington premiere of the newest Disney-Pixar collaboration, "The Incredibles." The film, about a family of superheroes in the witness protection program suddenly pulled into the spotlight again, was followed by a reception where kids could munch on hot dogs and get their faces painted. Chaired by Stern and her daughter Andrea Ferris, the event raised $80,000 for Save the Children's domestic programs. "This isn't your typical premiere," said Mark Shriver, vice president of U.S. programs for the charity. "There's no tuxedos and we've got kid food." From the look of it, this fundraiser was kid-tested and mother-approved.

With Laura Thomas