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Gamblin’ Woman

Whether it’s due to Bears celebrations or the bone-chilling weather, I haven’t been on my eight-nights-a-week nightlife schedule lately. To stave off an impending case of cabin fever, I hopped in a cab bound for Andersonville last Thursday to support some friends who run an art gallery, Estudiotres. My first thought: Andersonville? That’s so far north of my regular boundaries! But I’m glad I went, because I met an inspiring woman named Carolina Barbieri, a New York-based jewelry designer. She was in town for the opening night of her jewelry show, which runs through February 23rd at the gallery.As I sipped bad red wine in a plastic cup, I chatted up the England-born Barbieri, who grew up splitting her time between her mother’s place in the English countryside and her father’s residence in Florence, Italy. “I gain a lot of inspiration from architecture, old movies, paintings, and trips to India,” she told me. Barbieri works mostly with yellow, pink, and white-gold materials, which she likes to layer, as well as with precious and semiprecious stones. Big stones are an accessory mainstay, she tells me-not that she’s one to follow a fad. “I don’t look for the next big trend; I just know what I like,” she said. She may not follow the trends, but they certainly follow her. Barbieri is like New York royalty, I’m told-one of those darling designers who calls people like Liv Tyler good friends. Tyler is the woman responsible for getting Barbieri her break. The actress was wearing some of Barbieri’s designs while being photographed for a Jane cover, and editors at the magazine took notice. Other celebrity clients include Nicole Kidman, Giselle Bundchen, Julianne Moore, and Kirsten Dunst, among others. In other news: Is it just me, or has Texas Hold ‘Em permanently taken over every waking male thought? After the jewelry show, I jetted across town to root for my friend Sheila’s fianc‚, who was playing in a Texas Hold ‘Em charity tournament at River East Arts Center. Andy was one of 275 people who had paid $250 to enter the tournament, which benefited Children’s Oncology Services and One Step at a Time. There were also about 150 spectators who’d spent $50 a head for access to the open bar and passed apps, served in an intense room filled with mostly men-one of the reasons I agreed to go. Andy was one of the last men standing (OK, sitting), making it past 35 tables in the first round and eight tables in the second before folding at the final round’s 10-person table. The winner: Jim Skiniotes from New Lenox; the crowd of spectators fondly referred to him as “Skinny” throughout the night. His prize: a seat worth $10,000 and all expenses paid to the World Poker Tour Foxwoods Poker Classic, April 1st through 4th in Connecticut. Skinny, who’s trying to secure sponsors for his World Poker Tour turn, is selling logo real estate on the shirt he’ll wear at the tournament. Skinny says he’ll donate 50 percent of those proceeds to the Children’s Oncology Services and will use the other 50 percent to fly family and friends to the event to watch him compete. If you missed the River East Arts Center event and want in on another Texas Hold ‘Em tournament (one night where the money you contribute goes toward something other than booze), register for Meals on Wheels Chicago’s No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event, March 2nd at the Chicago Culture Center.

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