Arts / Galleries

Oscars of the Art World Brings the Stars Out in Houston — Art League’s 74th Anniversary Gala Keeps It Creative

Vital Funds to Help Power the Arts

BY Caitlin Hsu. Additional reporting Catherine D. Anspon // 12.21.22
photography Alex Barber and Laura Burlton

This is the next story in a series detailing outrageous, inventive and important art parties. It’s time to anoint the most sizzling soirées of the season. 

Art League Houston’s 74th Anniversary Gala was as star filled as its name would suggest. Titled Luminaries, this epic night not only honored leaders in the Texas arts community, but also raised an impressive $260,000 for the esteemed arts nonprofit’s mission. Four hundred guests gathered at The X Arts Pavilion at the revitalized POST Houston complex and began the celebration with a lively cocktail hour and a pop-up exhibition from ALH’s longstanding Healing Art program.

The evening was emceed by Houston’s Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean and co-chaired by Joi Maria, Matt Probus and Seba Raquel Suber.

Joi Marie Probus, Matt Probus and Seba Raquel Suber(1) (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)
Co-chair trio Joi Maria & Matt Probus, Seba Raquel Suber at the Art League Houston Luminaries gala (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

One highlight of the evening was Art League’s signature silent auction, featuring works from local, national and internationally recognized artists. The top three auction lots were donated by Texas artists Michael Ray Charles, Vicki Meek and Alexis Pye. After brisk bidding on the silent auction, guests savored an inventive three-course dinner catered by The Hometown Chef Catering Co. 

Like the Oscars, the anointing of the honorees always serves as the crescendo of this gala. Art League Houston’s award ceremony honored Letitia Huckaby as 2022 Texas Artist of the Year, Earlie Hudnall, Jr. as the recipient of the Biennial 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts, and power couple and Houston Museum of African American Culture co-founders Melanie Lawson and John Guess Jr. as the 2022 Texas Patrons of the Year. Their respective awards were created by Jessica Fuentes, Jesse Sifuentes and David McGee. The evening wrapped up with live music from DJ Flash Gordon Parks and a digital art experience from creative media lab Input/Output, aka Houston duo Billy Baccam and Alex Ramos

The big surprise of the night came in the special appearance of U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who dispensed congressional decrees to Art League Houston and all four of the honorees.

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116 _MG_8808 (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)
Carolyn Williams, Margaret Hudnall, honoree Earlie Hudnall Jr., Mattie Ponder, and Margaret Goodwin at the Art League Houston Luminaries Gala (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

Since 1948, Art League has been serving as a creative hub for visual artists primarily working in Texas. Its signature honor Texas Artist of the Year was established in 1983. As the gala funds more than 33 percent of the organization’s annual operating budget, it enables Art League Houston to achieve its mission of connecting the Texas community and impacting social change through contemporary visual art.

PC Seen: ALH Executive Director Jennie Ash, joined by board members including president Nima Farzaneh, vice president Audra White, and colleagues Lauri Wray, Zachary Gresham, Phillip Pyle II, Jennifer Blanco, Filo Castore, Dr. Jamie M. Everett, and Katy Schawe; Field of Study’s Jennifer Blanco and John Earles; in from Dallas, PDNB Gallery’s Missy and Burt Finger; Hooks-Epstein Galleries’ Yvonne Garcia; Art Is Bond’s Janice Bond; TSU University Museum’s Dr. Alvia Wardlaw; Project Row Houses director Eureka Gilkey; museum curators The Menil Collection’s Michelle White and the MFAH’s Alison de Lima Greene; photography luminaries FotoFest’s Wendy Watriss, MFAH founding curator Anne Wilkes Tucker, and, in from Moscow, independent curator Irina Chmyreva; Tatiana and Craig Massey; Duyen and Marc Nguyen; Cecily Horton; Lynn Goode and Harrison Williams; Lisa Rich and John McLaughlin.

Lovie Olivia _ Preetika Rajgariah (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)
Lovie Olivia & Preetika Rajgariah at the Art League Houston Luminaries Gala (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

More luminaries: silent auction talents including Keliy Anderson-Staley, Dallas-based Hakeem Adewumi, Rabéa Ballin, Christopher Blay (who also serves as HMAAC’s chief curator), Eepi Chaad, Mark Francis, Selven O’Keef Jarmon (whose beaded curtain for Art League brought South African craft artisans to Houston), Heather L. Johnson, Jessica Kreutter, Patrick Turk, Marc Newsome, Wimberley-based McKay Otto, Jesse Lott, Lovie Olivia and Preetika Rajgariah, Henry G. Sanchez, Emily Sloan, in from Dallas, Giovanni Valderas, Anthony Suber, and fashion designer Toni Whitaker; and cultural champions Eleanor WilliamsMarlene Marker, past patron honorees Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Star and Jack Massing, Katharine Barthelme and Shane Frank, Misty and Surena Matin, Mary and Marcellus Barone.

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