Texas Artist of the Year Revealed in Art League Houston’s Platinum Night

Moving Acceptance Speeches Make an Impact

BY // 12.05.18
photography Alex Barber and Laura Burlton

What: Art League Houston 70th Anniversary Gala

Where: Hotel ZaZa

PC Moment: Art League Houston celebrated its 7oth year with a blowout – the Gala, dubbed “Going Platinum,” and chaired by Duyen and Marc Nguyen and Kristen Perrin, with City Councilman David W. Robinson serving as honorary chair, raised a record amount for ALH while celebrating the achievements of visual talents Francesca Fuchs and George Smith, and collector and supporter Jereann Chaney.

The prestigious awards were thus bestowed: the Texas Artist of the Year to Fuchs, the Patron of the Year to Chaney, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts to Smith.

Emcees Lisa E. Harris and Emily Peacock set the night in motion with light banter to open the gala, followed by further welcoming remarks from ALH director Jennie Ash, joined by the co-chair trio and honorary chair politico Robinson.

The awards ceremony commenced soon after with Michelle White (senior curator at The Menil Collection) introducing Fuchs. Ryan N. Dennis (curator and programs director at Project Row Houses) did the honors with Smith (accepted by daughter and artist Kaneem Smith on his behalf). Finally, Julie Kinzelman (of Kinzelman Art Consulting), and Kyle Young (principal, ty-art) warmly extolled the virtues of Chaney.

Each award was marked by moving and personal acceptance speeches from the winners, with the gala’s beautifully crafted, one-of-a-kind awards designed respectively by Brad Tucker, Kaneem Smith, and Tara Conley on full display.

Conley’s creation of a crown for patroness Chaney was a delightful and droll touch, while fellow MFAH Core Fellow Tucker was a perfect choice for a disarming trophy tailored for Fuchs. Smith was clearly moved by the opportunity to create a custom award for her dad, who has been a constant personal inspiration.

Following the stagecraft, the night wrapped up with music from Flash Gordon Parks and the final fierce bidding of the auction.

Top lots at the silent auction were nabbed by: co-chairs the Nguyens, who took home works by Johan Barrios, Tsz Kam, a vivid screenprint from Jeffrey Dell, and a canvas by Bradley Kerl; McKay Otto and Keith Coffee, in from Wimberley, snagging a drawing by headliner, honoree George Smith; Lea Weingarten, lucky bidder on the Fuchs painting; Poppi Massey with a watercolor by Forrest Prince and a work by Selven O’Keef Jarmon; Tatiana and Craig Massey winning a watercolor by the late Dick Wray, 2000 Texas Artist of the Year; Leah Bennett scoring canvases by Chris Cascio and JooYoung Choi; and Scott Sparvero who acquired a signature work by 2016 Texas Artist of the Year Jesse Lott.

The night’s bottom-line was painted in green, generating more than $200,000 for ALH’s mission, exhibitions, and community programs.

Social canvas: A full contingent of ALH board members, including board president Kristen Perrin, who served as this historic gala’s co-chair, joined by fellow trustees Charlotte Conner, Christian Barker, Susan Quarles, Jamie Aragones, Robert Daniel, Sean P. Marshall, Juan Martinez, Matthew McDonald, Serigo Rojas, and Stephanie Roman; gallerists including Kerry Inman and Nicole Longnecker, who, respectively, represent artist honorees Fuchs and Smith; silent auction talent including David Aylsworth with husband Paul Forsythe of The Menil Bookstore, Debra Barrera with art dealer husband Jonathan Hopson, Patrick Turk, Chris Cascio, Sharon Engelstein and Aaron Parazette, Terry Suprean, and Thedra Cullar-Ledford with husband Stephen Cullar-Ledford; MFAH director Gary Tinterow, who the emcees good-naturedly ribbed about being there; past Patrons of the Year including Leigh and Reggie Smith; Minnette and Peter Boesel; Crystal and Don Owens; The Menil Collection’s Thelma Smith, wife of honoree George Smith; Holland Chaney, daughter of Patron honoree Jereann Chaney; Healing Art artist Ronnie Queenan; past Lifetime honoree recipient Jesse Lott; former CAMH director, now gallerist Bill Arning; and Selven O’Keef Jarmon, whose South African bead project will soon transform one side of the Art League’s striking metal building (stay tuned).

Additional reporting by Catherine D. Anspon.

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