Arts / Galleries

Houston’s Biggest Art Auction Turns Winter Street Into a Frenzied Scene

Affordable Housing Mission Means Even More This Year

BY Catherine D. Anspon and Catarina Williams // 12.06.17
photography John Lewis

What: Art on the Avenue

Where: Winter Street Studios

PC Moment: More than 400 ardent art enthusiasts, social types, and artists convened at the heroically scaled Winter Street Studios for part one of a big art weekend. The Preview Party component of Art on the Avenue presented 500 works from a total of 263 artists — all up for acquisition in a storied evening that marked Houston’s largest silent auction of paintings, sculpture, photography, craft, and jewelry, all to benefit the worthy cause of Avenue CDC.

Now in its 26th year, the nonprofit has been a role model for what a Community Development Corporation can do for affordable housing, preservation, and fostering neighborhoods and community. This fall’s Art on the Avenue was particularly meaningful, as funds raised went to both participating artists as well as a new housing recovery program implemented post Harvey. (To date, Avenue CDC has made a real difference in the Near Northside area it serves. Since its founding in 1991, it has developed 186 single-family homes and 704 rental homes.)

Diverse, democratic media provided intriguing observation. An exhibition within the auction, selected by guest juror, the Menil’s curator of collections Paul R. Davis, was a must-stop spot.

A moving touch was provided by students from HISD Northside High School and YES Prep Northside and East End campuses. Nearly 40 students came together to create 8 x 10 inch mini masterworks, donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the cause.



Eager art lovers were anxious to place their first bid on artworks offered at “Buy It Now” prices, ensuring no further competition ensued. Many works were quickly snapped up  during opening night’s Preview Party.

Amuse-bouche and all manner of bites were proffered by BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures (most memorable, the lobster deviled eggs), FM Kitchen & Bar (colored Udon noodles and brisket consommé), Javani King’s yummy Thai curry chicken kebabs, Jenni’s Noodle House (classic shrimp- and pork-filled egg rolls), Fusion Taco’s smokin’ brisket tacos, all paired with dessert options from Fat Cat Creamery, and Poptails’ clever vodka- and cognac-fueled creations. Foodie Jailyn Marcel curated the restaurant component, which has become an eagerly anticipated part of this art night.

Social Canvas: Preview Party chairs Ellie Sweeney and Jessica Pierce; honorary chairs John Cryer III and Geraldina Interiano Wise, co-owners of Sawyer Gallery & Studios; Ave CDC director Mary Lawler and colleague Kara Niles; and hand-working host committee members including Mark Parthie, and artists Nicola Parente and Tami Merrick. Also sighted: past Art on the Avenue honoree Ric Campo, Scott Wise, Katie and Travis Huehlefeld, Susan and Ward Pennebaker, painters Fariba Abedin and Michael Golden, jeweler Raphaele Malandain, photog Joe Aker, Meg Poissant, George Lancaster, and the legendary Dean Ruck known for his interventions into the built environment. Ceramist Roy Hanscom and sculptor David Graeve went home with first and second (cash) honors, respectively, while Erik Hagen and Judith Meyer received honorable mentions, prizes all bestowed by the aforementioned juror Paul R. Davis.

Home, chic home.

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