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Arts / Museums

Vital Houston Museum Celebrates 70 Years by Freezing Time

When a Gallery Turns Into a Disco Lounge

BY // 04.30.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

Not every fundraiser toasts 70 years. Even rarer are such milestones for an avant-garde arts institution.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, however, opened October 31, 1948, making it the second-oldest non-collecting arts institution in America. (Read about the museum’s infamous bread fight here.)

So it was with considerable fanfare that the CAMH marked the finale of its 70th-year festivities with a gala that was equal parts elegance and fun.

Freeze Frame, as the night was titled, was co-chaired by dynamic couples Haydeh and Ali Davoudi and Jordan and Dylan Seff. Some 250 guests flocked to the museum, which was cleverly reimagined by Rebekah Johnson of Bergner & Johnson into an abstract, white-on-white mise en scène, with even the chandeliers cocooned in fabric. It made for an artful backdrop for the seated dinner by A Fare Extraordinaire in the Brown Foundation Gallery and the live auction.

Auction Drama

Will Boone with his live auction canvas “Threat,” 2018, at the 2019 CAMH Gala and Art Auction (Photo by Daniel Ortiz) (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Will Boone with his live auction canvas “Threat,” 2018, at the 2019 CAMH Gala and Art Auction. The former Houstonian/now L.A. artist will exhibit this fall (November 8, 2019 – February 16, 2020) at the museum where he once worked as an art handler. Boone generated a bidding war over the phone for his text-based monochrome painting. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Christie’s Steven Zick hammered down six lots, including creations by Cheryl Donegan, Jamal Cyrus, Aaron Parazette, and Gael Stack (all CAMH exhibited), along with a work by UT professor Margo Sawyer and upcoming museum headliner Will Boone. A portion of the space was theatrically curtained off, allotted to the 21 silent art auction lots. Guests cocktailed, checked out the offerings, and bid by smartphone for works by McKay Otto, Thomas Glassford, Melinda Laszczynski, and more.

Downstairs, the Zilkha Gallery was transformed into a disco lounge and light show for the after-party chaired by Taylor E. Landry. DJ John Tran manned the turntable, while the dance floor was packed with an intergenerational mix of patrons, collectors and influencers.

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Painting the Town:

CAMH interim museum director Christina Brungardt with curators Dean Daderko, Rebecca Matalon, and Patricia Restrepo; Christie’s Jessica Phifer; Candace Baggett and Ron Restrepo; museum board chair Jereann Chaney and daughter Holland Chaney; Beverly and Howard Robinson; Leslie and Russ Robinson; Liz and David Anders, hosting a lively table; stalwart museum supporters Sissy and Denny Kempner, Leigh and Reggie Smith, and Heidi and David Gerger; Dillon Kyle and Sam Lasseter; Ruth Dreessen; Louise Jamail; Diane Lokey Farb, escorted by Ceron; Rania Daniel; Natasha Parvizian Gorgue; Claudia and Roberto Contreras; Greg Fourticq and John Cone; Blakely and Trey Griggs; Katherine and Bill Phelps; Cali Alvarado Pettigrew; and Lucinda and Javier Loya.

Also making the scene: Menil director Rebecca Rabinow and husband, music man Matt Ringel; gallerists Kerry Inman, Bryn Larsen, and Laura Rathe; Harry Winston’s Petra Martinez and husband, Fabian Martinez; Elizabeth Esfahani Willey of Matt Camron and husband, Robert Willey of Galerie Novella; Monsour Taghdisi; Alisha and Alex Criner; Erica and Benjy Levit; Kelley and Stephen Lubanko; Mary and Marcel Barone; Johanne and Joe Gatto; and artists including Libbie Masterson, Gil Bruvel (contributing to the silent auction), Thedra Cullar-Ledford, Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau of Biscuit Paint Wall fame, and, in from Los Angeles, live-auction talent Will Boone (a former Houstonian who will solo at the CAMH this fall), whose minimalist blue text-based canvas Threat generated a phone bidding war, which added considerably to the evening’s bottom line of $550,000.

(Ladies, save this date: Another Great Night in November takes place Wednesday, November 20, hosted by Erika Toussaint; Yvonne Cormier and Mary D’Andrea co-chair. See scenes from last year’s Another Great Night here.)

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