Arts / Featured Parties

Houston’s New Arts Czar Gets a Red Carpet Welcome at a Stunning Home: Santa’s Car, Mayor Turner’s Love and Polka-Dot Dummies

BY // 12.28.17
photography Lizette Belen Soto

What: Houston Arts Alliance Holiday Party

Where: The Home and Collection of Penelope and Lester Marks

PC Moment: Approximately 75 arts denizens turned out to toast and welcome Houston Arts Alliance’s new CEO John Abodeely. Abodeely is already building up good will since his arrival last month from a high-profile post in Washington D.C. where he worked as acting executive director for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, alongside his honorary chair — First Lady Michelle Obama.

This Yule-tide bash was not in your typical casa — it was hosted by Artnews Top 200 collector and HAA board member Lester Marks and physician/wife, Penelope Marks, at their home brimming with important modern and contemporary paintings and sculpture, from a cache of Joseph Cornell boxes and notable Anselm Kiefers to a towering Nick Cave Soundsuit plus a pair of polka-dotted mannequins by none other than Yayoi Kusama.

Clever party details amplified the festive vibe: the Santa Sleigh art car parked at the valet line, heartwarming vocals by Houston Boys Choir — which receives funding from HAA — and a personal appearance by Mayor Sylvester Turner, who pronounced the Boychoir performance “awesome!” Phoenicia was enlisted by the hosts to cater the buffet dinner, adding a note of foodie diversity to the evening.

Social Sculpture: No surprise the night drew a who’s who of the art world including HAA board chairman Philamena Baird, and husband Arthur, joined by patrons and collector types including HAA board members, a handful of gallerists, civic arts leaders, and HAA staff. Making a mark on the canvas: HAA team Sara Kellner (who directs Civic Art + Design for the city) and colleagues Angel Quesada, Dominique Davison, and Deidre Thomas; Debbie McNulty, director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs; Nancy Allen, patroness of Asia Society; Houston Boychoir artistic director Carole Nelson; Ashley Langley of the famed Smither family, big angels for the Orange Show and outsider art; founding dean of UH’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, Andrew DavisJon Deal, developer of the Washington Avenue Arts District; Michael Treviño; Lester’s folks, Shirley and Jay Marks; gallerists María Inés Sicardi (fresh from exhibiting at Art Basel Miami Beach), Deborah Colton, Meg Poissant (also an attorney on the campaign trail for a Court of Appeals bench), Barbara Davis, and in from London, private dealer Britt Sager; public art honcho Tommy Gregory, with the Houston Airport System and artist/writer wife, Casey Arguelles GregoryJay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones; Terrence Hobdy with Jonna Hitchcock; Diana Marshall; Richard Schechter; and the granddaddy of Houston artists, David Adickes, with pal Joe Siff.

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