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Society / The Seen

Million-Plus Dollar Art Gift Inspires a Standing Ovation

MFAH’s New Heroes Take Center Stage

BY // 01.25.17
photography Wilson Parish

Typically, preview dinners for exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are sedate, somewhat cerebral affairs with genteel applause acknowledging generous sponsors, curators and the like. But the most recent dinner, celebrating the opening of the exhibition “Two Centuries of American Still-Life Painting: The Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs Collection,” proved to be considerably more exuberant.

How could it not be with the effervescent Michelle Hevrdejs in the spotlight and Frank Hevrdejs basking in the much-deserved attention to his collection, which he accumulated over three decades. As he noted in his remarks to the gathering of trustees, donors, exhibition funders, and curators, “It’s been such a fun thing to be working in this environment for 30 years.”

During that time, the collection has grown to include the 60 works on display including Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth, Donald Sultan, and Richard Edward Miller. The majority of the works on view have never been displayed for the public.

In his remarks to the gathering on the second floor of the museum’s Beck Building, MFAH director Gary Tinterow announced that the couple has bequeathed the entire collection to the museum. At which point, all of the 120 guests (some already in the know) rose in an animated standing ovation.

“Frank, you spoiled us,” Tinterow quipped. “You spoiled us by giving us our dessert before dinner.”

But rather than spoil appetites, the excitement fueled a hunger for the City Kitchen feast that featured baby kale salad with heirloom cauliflower and grapefruit, seared sea bass with wild mushrooms and, for dessert, a lemon semi-freddo.

Seen: Jeanie Kilroy Wilson and Wally Wilson, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Anne and Charles Duncan, Lynn Wyatt, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Tom Glanville, Tina and Joe Pyne, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Laurie Morian, Jo-anne and Mike Cousins, Nancy and Butch Abendshein and Kathy and Marty Goossen, representing lead corporate sponsor JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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