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Larry and the Arts 

Stepping into the "Art With Heart" auction Saturday night at Queens College's Dana Auditorium, I felt like an artist. Well, dressed like an artist, at least. OK, so I was just hoping people would think I was an artist, and wouldn't mind that I was wearing an untucked shirt and blue jeans. The auction, a benefit for United Family Services' domestic violence programs, The Shelter for Battered Women, and Victim Assistance, drew a large crowd of art denizens to Myers Park. Some had the look of art aficionados, with carefully groomed hair and soul patches that would put Apolo Anton Ohno to shame. Others had the look of a family trying to find a "pretty picture" to hang over their new kitchen table, preferably one with mauve overtones. All blended nicely, thanks to the worthy cause and ample free booze. After a silent auction and mingling period, MC Larry Sprinkle tried in vain for 15 minutes or more to draw the stragglers into Dana's main room, resorting to Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., and Jimmy Stewart impersonations. Still, few entered the auditorium. Until, mind you, Larry began giving a sarcastic version of the weather -- "It's stopped raining. The forecast calls for it to be a bit foggy." Anyone who had just entered could tell you that, but it seemed to work, as Charlotteans love weather even more than they do floral pictures with mauve overtones. After a comedian warmed up the crowd, the live auction began in earnest, with the unquestioned centerpiece a study of a woman and child that Ben Long used in his Transamerica Dome fresco. Bidding started slowly, and then gradually picked up steam between three bidders determined to have a piece of Charlotte history. The winner eventually walked away with the piece for a little over $2,500, the biggest haul of the night for a single artwork. For that kind of loot, however, the buyer ought to take a hint from St. Peter's -- make sure there's no construction next door when choosing a place to hang it. -- Tim C. Davis

Getting your money's worth Last Friday I wanted to check out the "Night for Lovers Tour" at Ovens Auditorium featuring urban artists Jaheim and Faith Evans. As I exited off Independence Boulevard onto Briar Creek, I had to make a sudden stop while a dude riding horseback crossed the street. I wondered what the heck was going on, then as I pulled into the parking lot, livestock trailers and diesel trucks were everywhere. Turns out it was the second night of the East Coast Rodeo Finals, which was being held at Cricket Arena. Good thing for me, because the show at Ovens was sold out and I couldn't get in. As luck would have it, plenty of tickets were available for the rodeo. With nothing to lose, I headed in the arena where I was greeted by an overwhelming smell of, uh,. . .manure. So, it wasn't exactly a night of soulful songs, but there was a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and those cowgirls did put some glitz into the evening with their shiny-fringed shirts. Anyway, I took in as much as I could, including one rider breaking his arm, and around 10pm I headed for the exit. The show at Ovens (which had started a good 30 minutes after the rodeo) was letting out, and most in the crowd appeared to be a little disappointed. "It was like nothing was going on for most of the night and then it was over," grumbled one concertgoer. A couple of folks did, however, joke about going in to the rodeo. I wanted to tell 'em that for less than half of what they'd paid for the show they could have at least gotten well over three hours of entertainment as opposed to two hours of boredom at the concert. -- Lynn Farris

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