Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Gala

"Flicker Affair"

Catherine D. Anspon. Photographer Jenny Antill.
July 02, 2013
Event Date:
March 01, 2013

Flickering Fête, The Swell Sextet
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s annual spring fête always boasts an open-ended theme based on perceptual experience. (“View Askew,” “Seeing Things” and “Fresh Tread” have all been titles of CAMH Galas in recent seasons.) This year’s motif, “Flicker Affair,” gave event designer Rebekah Johnson an excuse to play with beams of light and bouncing rays of color, effects that perfectly offered tribute to the museum’s metal-clad building and futuristic mission that shows the ground-breaking and avant-garde and celebrates its 65th year on October 31. Now back to our party: A sextet of the cool and connected presided as gala co-chairs — Caroline and Jeremy Finkelstein, Glen Gonzalez and Steve Summers, and Erica and Benjy Levit — attracting friends and followers from the ranks of the social, fashion, energy, medical, foodie, art and design sets.
Sparkle Plenty
Fine fare by A Fare Extraordinaire, headlined by house-smoked beef tenderloin, kept gala-goers in their seats during the seated dinner, while an after-dinner bar alongside the auction lots was an apt lure to increase silent auction bidding. In keeping with recent years, the entertainment was not a live band, but a raucous DJ — L-Boogie did turntable honors — allowing more funds to go into the museum coffers and edging the evening with an unstructured element of cool. Finally, special kudos to Christie’s auctioneer Steven Zick, who comes in from Chicago to preside over the brisk live auction fervor each year. Best line by Zick: “Okay, we’re going to sell Jesus now.” (For more deets, read on).
Bidding Wars Broke Out
Ever since Bill Arning was ensconced as director in 2009, each year amps up the caliber of the live and silent art-auction goodies. Arning calls in special favors and mines friendships of many years standing with boldfaced artist pals such as Rob Pruitt and Jack Early, the latter attracting attention for his cutout photo triptych of a young nude Yoko Ono in Strawberry Yoko, Boysenberry Yoko, Grape Yoko (2012), which went home with high bidder Eddie Allen. Indeed, our top collectors were determined and decisive and did not flinch from upping the bids. This year’s bottom-line auction total exceeded a hefty $200,000, thanks to all the hotly contested bidding. Kent Dorn’s Dead Blue Jay went to Greg Fourticq Jr., who gifted it back to the museum to resell to the next highest bidder, while Randy Powers secured Rachel Hecker’s masterful Jesus #4, 2011, a hypnotic painting based on an unknown fashion ad. Meanwhile, a provocative self portrait of Rob Pruitt as a sports fan in exaggerated black face was won by J.B. Fairbanks, who always steps up in the name
of the CAMH.
Luminescent Ones
Among those social high beams with brilliant art wattages who contributed to the half-million-dollar bottom line ($525,000, to be precise): Jereann Chaney; Kelli and Eddy Blanton; Cabrina and Steven Owsley; Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, joined by Marita’s brother James Bell, who headed up a table where guests went all out and wrapped themselves in strands of lights; Lisa and Russell Sherrill; Tatiana and Craig Massey (his Massey Schmidt Group at Morgan Stanley underwrote the catalog printing); Kathryn and Ian Fay; Leigh and Reggie Smith; Penelope and Lester Marks; Bridget and Patrick Wade; Sissy and Denny Kempner; Andrew Schirrmeister, who popped the question to date Robin Young (she said yes); Bill Caudell; John and Becca Cason Thrash; Karen and Harry Susman; Kelly and Nicholas Silvers; our fave artist couple, Sharon Engelstein and Aaron Parazette; and gallerist Sandy Parkerson, heading a Downton Abbey-dressed brigade inspired by the PBS drama, itself a piece of performance art.