Let's see if we can get this straight. A couple of years ago, H. h. Leonards (only her husband calls here Helen Hope; others call her "H" or "H. H."), raised funds for the political action committee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes. Along the way, the union asked her to frame its art collection. So she got into the framing business, which led to art investments and artist representation, making enough money so the couple could buy a five-story mansion with pool below Dupont Circle.
Then an antique dealer heard about all the space in the house, and so Calvert Gallery furnished much of the residence with classic furniture -- ask and you'll learn the price. The art on the walls, as well as the antiques, change every three weeks or so.
At least once a week, 29-year-old H. H. throws a party of some sort. Maybe she features a street musician who she thinks ought to have a wider audience. Maybe she's selling some art, like her 48-hour "H-Athon" a couple of weekends ago: after 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, guests received a 20 percent discount on framing, art or antiques. (Her husband, attorney Stuart Pape, wasn't very enthusiastic about that event, but by Sunday he was pouring the champagne.) Or late last month H. H. hosted a fund-raising dinner and art auction for John Anderson's campaign. Then at breakfast there's likely to be a couple of strangers -- referred by friends -- breaking bread with them.
What H. H. is doing here is starting a salon. Wander in and introduce yourself. Maybe you saw one of her art shows at Children's Hospital, an association or a law firm. Maybe you heard about her through your friend in Beverly Hills for whom H. H. is hanging a personal art collection.
But no matter how you learned about h. H's salon, you're welcome. Her house, Leonards says very matter-of-factly and quite pleasantly, "should be seen. It's a nice atmosphere to talk about different things, to see art . . . When we got married, it was the day Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. The rabbi stood up and said how awful that was. My father stood up and said he wanted to apologize for his generation . . . that he was leaving it to this generation to bring the ideals up to where they should be. By creating an atmosphere pleasant to be in, a learning experience, an international feeling of growth, and by helping artists -- that's my little idea of bringing up ideals."