Arts / Galleries

Fine Prints and Bidding Wars — Houston Center for Photography Entertains an Art Smart Crowd

Joan Morgenstern Gets an Overdue Moment

BY // 03.29.23
photography Johnny Than

Houston Center for Photography’s 2023 Print Auction and Dinner brought 272 art lovers to The Briar Club for an evening of fine prints and bidding wars. The festivities kicked off with a lively cocktail hour with guests mingling and perusing the auction pieces while sipping on aperol spritzes and other drinks from the bar.

In the foyer, pianist Ben Miller of event band The Moment played jazzy renditions of pop and classic rock songs on a grand piano, setting a classy tone for the evening. 

Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl, Gretchen Watkins, Johanne Beaulieu Gatto at Houston Center for Photography's Print Auction & Dinner (Photo by Johnny Than)
Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl, Gretchen Watkins, Johanne Beaulieu Gatto at Houston Center for Photography’s Print Auction & Dinner (Photo by Johnny Than)

Later, the art smart crowd made its way into the dining room, elegantly lit up with pink lights. Each table was adorned with lovely mushroom-shaped centerpieces created by co-chair Katherine Robinson. After everyone was seated, co-chair Johanne Beaulieu Gatto thanked the attendees and introduced Houston Center for Photography’s new executive director Anne Leighton Massoni.

Massoni spotlighted the honoree of the night — Joan Morgenstern, an icon in the Houston photography community and the founding president of Photo Forum. Massoni singled out Morgenstern’s “generosity, keen eye and intent and purpose with collecting” before playing a heartwarming video dedication to her with recorded messages from artists and friends. 

Honoree Joan Morgenstern addresses the crowd at Houston Center for Photography's Print Auction & Dinner. (Photo by Johnny Than)
Honoree Joan Morgenstern addresses the crowd at Houston Center for Photography’s Print Auction & Dinner. (Photo by Johnny Than)

The Briar Club served a three course dinner — grilled artichoke salad, short rib on a bed of saffron risotto, and chocolate and raspberry cake — and the bidding began. Auctioneer Ruth Mauldin, formerly of Christie’s and Bonhams, successfully sold off 21 lots to the lively crowd. Of the 70 lots in total, 49 sold later that night in the online silent auction, hosted through Qtego.

Among the most notable works were Christy Lee Rogers’ Tenderness, 2020, which went to Nena Marsh; Debra Barrera’s Precious Twin, Blue Carnations, 2020, sold to Sarah Beth Wilson; and Gay Block’s Miami, South Beach (my shadow on red pants), 1982, which went home with Whitney Guarisco. The lots represented artists and galleries from all over the world.

Through the live auction and the online silent auction, Houston Center for Photography reached its fundraising goals and created yet another unforgettable night. 

PC Seen: Krista and Mike Dumas; Beverly and Howard Robinson; FotoFest’s Steven Evans and Wendy Watriss; Catherine Couturier; Assembly owners Shane Lavelette, Ashlyn Davis Burns with husband Luke Burns; Dillon Kyle; Foto Relevance owners Bryn Larsen and Geoffrey Koslov with wife Barbara Koslov; HCP board president Nancy O’Connor; Brian Clamp; MFAH curator emeritus Anne Wilkes Tucker and associate curator Lisa Volpe

Curated Collection

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