Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Grand Gala Ball: "Modern"

Deco Drama at $1.4 Million Festivities

By Catherine D. Anspon. Photography by Jenny Antill, Priscilla Dickson.  |  Photos by Jenny Antil, Priscilla Dickson
January 11, 2013
Event Date:
October 12, 2012

Swank Decor, Swells with Deep Pockets
Each year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball — the epicenter of the fall season — has its own distinctive allure, vibe and theme. The celebratory swagger of 2010’s American art-inspired gala took its cue from an epic Frank Stella canvas; last year’s over-the-top Egyptian-infused event was shaped by Tut-mania. In counterpoint, the 2012 Grand Gala Ball was edged in elegance and understatement. No pharaoh-inspired floral displays crowded the reception desk. Instead, one Jazz Age masterpiece — Edgar Brandt’s wrought-iron and gilded Deco-era firescreen bearing the image of a Isadora Duncan-styled dancer trailing a scarf — reigned at the entrance to the Law Building’s atrium. Modern-day swells assembled around Brandt’s 1925 figural flapper, carrying forth this year’s “Modern” theme with panache and insouciant attitude. Over it all presided powerhouse swan Cornelia Long, MFAH’s chairman of the board, on the arm of her dashing gallerist husband Meredith Long. For this year’s event, “less is more” was obviously Miz Long’s mantra: Décor-maker John Friedman devised the emerald-hued arrival tent, and InBloom’s Scott McCool crafted the dramatic orchid centerpieces. Projected slides of the museum’s greatest Deco hits from the permanent collection flashed upon the walls of the Mies van der Rohe–designed Cullinan Hall. Also appearing overhead was an image of Mrs. Long from 1961, the first year she chaired the ball, reinforcing the sense of tradition and timelessness that permeated the beautiful, smoldering evening. Four hundred and fifty guests and more than $1.4 million later — after a lavish three-course seated dinner devised by City Kitchen and privileged ones filling the dance floor to standards by Manhattan-based Starlight Orchestra — this was indeed one
for the “Modern” record books.
Opulent Ones
Director Gary Tinterow at
his first Grand Gala Ball with
Christopher Gardner
Marie and Ed Bosarge
Fayez Sarofim with Dena Albea
Kelly and Nicholas Silvers, who
won the dinner with Steven
Holl, the architect of the
impending MFAH third building
Martha Long with Sean Wade
Laura and John Arnold
Diane Lokey Farb
Nancy and Rich Kinder
Ann and John Bookout
Phoebe and Bobby Tudor
Kelli and Martin Fein
Lynn Wyatt escorted by son
Brad Wyatt
Rolanette and Berdon
Janice and Bob McNair
Macey and Harry Reasoner
Leslie and Brad Bucher
Carol and Michael Linn
Debbie and John Daugherty
Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs
Franci and Jim Crane
Rose and Harry Cullen
Elise and Russell Joseph
Margaret Williams with
Jim Daniel
Pat Breen
Jeanie Kilroy with Ed Becnel