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Arts / Museums

Houston Mayor Gets into an Art Bidding War

Bubbly-Fueled Bash Brings in Plenty of Green for Community Artists

BY // 04.26.17
photography Lizette Belen Soto

What: Community Artists’ Collective 30th Anniversary Evening of Champagne and Art Ungala

Where: Deborah Colton Gallery

PC Moment: The night unfolded in three acts: a bubbly-fueled cocktail hour with musical stylings by soul songbird Kristal Cherelle on the acoustic guitar; a heart-felt awards ceremony held in the gallery’s al fresco green space; and the hotly contested auction conducted by gallerist and collector Lloyd Gite. Two public figures amplified the energy —  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Mayor Sylvester Turner — as they made surprise appearances to present the proclamation of Community Artists Collective Day to the nonprofit’s founders Michelle Barnes (long-serving executive director) and Texas Southern University professor Dr. Sarah Trotty.

Meanwhile, who knew Mayor Turner was an art collector? The populist elected official engaged in a bidding war for a classic Earlie Hudnall Jr. photograph, gracefully bowing out to allow Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, TSU University Museum director and one of the evening’s honorees, to win. Vostra Jazz via The Peoples’ Family Workshop ensemble and DJ Rashad Al-Amin kept the vibe flowing as the birthday bash attuned to African-American art collectors and The Collective supporters raised a sum well into the six figures — beautiful music indeed.

Who: Chair trio gallerist and host Deborah Colton, Beverly Harmon, and Dr. Sarah Trotty; honorary chairs power couple Dr. Dina Alsowayel and Tony Chase with their son Jordan Chase; worthy honorees the aforementioned art historian Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, patron The Honorable Peter Brown (architect and former City Councilman), and artist Delita Pinchback Martin (for her community and activism work including creating a special linocut print, The Seeker, to raise funds for The Collective’s 30th); Lester Marks (after whom the patron award is named); Melanie Lawson and John Guess Jr.; Jackie and Malcolm Mazow; Anita and Gerald Smith; Eugene Foney; Winell and Doug Herron; Augusta Green IV; Denise Bates; Lainie Gordon and David Mincberg; Licia Green Ellis; Divya and Chris Brown (daughter-in-law and son of Peter Brown); husbands of the founders Willie Trotty and Barry Barnes with son Matthew; TSU prof Dr. Michon Benson; fashion designer and Collective teacher Char Lockett; and Gaynell Floyd-Drexler who chaired the art auction stocked with important works by African-American artists including the collectible Leamon Green and Ann ‘Sole Sister’ Johnson (both in attendance), and late greats Dr. John Biggers and Bert Long Jr.

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