Arts / Galleries

Emerging Collectors Brunches Give Houston’s Art Scene a Boost — Fueling the Next Generation of Art Lovers

These Intimate Meals Spark Real Conversations

BY // 06.16.23

Curated art, food, and conversation are brought together in Align ROI’s Emerging Collectors Brunch series, creatively envisioned and organized by arts advocate Vernique Hutchinson Francis. The first event of the series was held at the home of two Houston doctors — Jakeen and Garfield Johnson. Everyone mingled, enjoyed the artwork, and sipped on refreshments. 

In conversation with Houston Arts Alliance CEO John Abodeely, attendees discussed ways to improve the relationship between collectors and artists, roadblocks faced by new collectors and more. It all exemplified the new brunch series’ goal of empowering rising collectors and creating an artistic ecosystem in the Houston community. 

As a parting gift, everyone was given a limited-edition giclee print of Zsavon Butler’s Wishing On a Star. The piece features a blue and black sky dotted with golden stars, drifting above three figures wrapped in swirling green robes. Butler is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist whose evocative works capture vulnerable emotional narratives.

The second event of the Emerging Collectors Brunch series took place at Delita Martin’s Black Box Studio, where guests enjoyed a specially curated brunch menu inspired by the very garden the event was located in. The menu, designed by Chef Shatki Baum and catered by Fareview, featured an array of delicious options from French toast with fig and cherry syrup to a sweet onion collard quiche.

Lucky attendees migrated between the indoor and outdoor spaces, chatting and taking in Martin’s colorful, expressive works and the space she used to create them. 

Delita Martin, Kaima Akarue and John Abodeely at the Emerging Collectors Brunch series in Houston. (Photo by Mark Francis)
Delita Martin, Kaima Marie Akarue, and John Abodeely at the Emerging Collectors Brunch series in Houston. (Photo by Mark Francis)

Martin is a renowned printmaker currently based out of Huffman, Texas. Her work — inspired significantly by African traditions, intergenerational connections and her personal memories — uses visual imagery to tell the story of marginalized women and Black women in particular. Last year, Martin put on a seminal exhibition at the 2022 Venice Biennale entitled “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined.”

Elizabeth Anthony

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Kaima Marie Akarue was the emerging artist featured in the second Emerging Collectors Brunch. Her work is informed by her heritage and upbringing, and she utilizes collage and painting to explore fragmented realities and the social implications of various identities. 

Terri Hamm made the scene at an Emerging Collectors Brunch (Photo by Patrick Buckner)
Terri Hamm made the scene at an Emerging Collectors Brunch. (Photo by Patrick Buckner)

The conversation at the second event explored the artists’ thoughts on valuing and pricing artwork, particularly in a market that often undervalues work by Black women, as well as ways to support artists and the relationships between artists, collectors and galleries. 

Attendees were given an exclusive opportunity to acquire Delita Martin’s piece called Flowering Soul, and were gifted a print of Kaima Marie Akarue’s Closed Mouths, sponsored by Houston’s ART IS BOND. gallery, owned and directed by Janice Bond

These intimate brunches, similar to a salon dinner and involving only 25 to 30 invited attendees, are designed to empower new collectors on their journey in the art world and to cultivate an arts ecosystem. Each one features an established artist and an emerging artist or two, established collectors and up-and-coming collectors in the Houston arts community. 

If you’re interested in joining future installments of Align ROI’s Emerging Collectors Brunch series, you can sign up for the organization’s newsletters to receive priority ticket availability. 

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