Arts / Galleries

Texas Artist of the Year Revealed in Art League Houston’s Stardust Night — Celebrating the City-Changing Power of Creativity

This 75th Anniversary Blowout Brings Out All the Art Stars

BY // 11.08.23
photography Alex Barber and Laura Burlton

Magic and stardust were in the air at Hotel ZaZa as Houstonians gathered to celebrate the arts. Co-chairs Dr. Jamie Everett and Charlie Gustin, Jayni Karsan and Sam Patel, and Lisa Rich and John McLaughlin welcomed nearly 400 guests to Art League Houston’s 75th Anniversary Gala: Stardust. 

This is an annual event hosted by the nonprofit to celebrate luminaries in the Texas arts world. Think the equivalent of Oscars in the categories of artists, patrons and lifetime achievement.

L-R_ Charlie Gustin and Dr. Jamie Everett (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burton)
Co-chairs Charlie Gustin & Dr. Jamie Everett (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

The evening began with a cocktail party, during which everyone admired the collectible silent auction lots on display, as well as the showcase of work from ALH’s Healing Art program. Healing Art serves artists with chronic illnesses and disabilities – one of the only programs of its kind in Houston. 

For the seated dinner, Hotel ZaZa prepared a three-course meal with a Texas hill country salad, beef tenderloin and decadent dessert options, one of which was a vegan chocolate and raspberry cake from Shakkar Bakery.

As art-world insiders feasted, Art League Houston executive director Jennie Ash delivered welcome remarks, followed by co-chairs Lisa Rich and John McLaughlin. 

“In this room tonight, you are not just attendees,” Ash said. “You are champions of a vibrant and creative ecosystem that recognizes the transformative power of the arts and artists to nurture ideas, spark imagination and impact positive social change.”

Introducing Pêche

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L-R_ Jennie Ash, Lisa Rich and John McLaughlin (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burton)
ALH executive director Jennie Ash, co-chairs Lisa Rich & John McLaughlin (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

Then came the highlight of the evening: the awards presentation. This year, Art League Houston honored Vincent Valdez as the 2023 Texas Artist of the Year, FotoFest co-founder Wendy Watriss won the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts Leadership and Cecily E. Horton received 2023 Texas Patron of the Year recognition. 

To introduce each of the honorees and spotlight their contributions to Houston’s arts community, Art League Houston premiered three dedication videos from Jay Clark Films. The winners were then invited on stage to receive their awards, each of which was specially created by a Houston artist. Valdez was bestowed with an award created by John Valadez, Watriss received a creation from David Aylsworth and Horton was presented with a work by Alexis Pye

Attendees danced the night away to live music by Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country. At one point in the evening, the band was joined with a surprise performance by Valdez on the trumpet. While the musicians played on, people cast their final bids for the silent auction, which featured 75 artworks (a nod to Art League Houston’s 75th anniversary) including works from several previous honorees, including Amy Blakemore, Earlie Hudnall Jr. and Trenton Doyle Hancock. 

L-R_ Arthur Valdez, Vincent Valdez, Adriana Corral and Rosie Corral (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burton)
Arthur Valdez, honoree Vincent Valdez, Adriana Corral, Rosie Corral (Photo by Alex Barber and Laura Burlton)

Currently on view at Art League Houston is Valdez’s two-part exhibition: “Siete Dias/Seven Days,” which features portraits of 14 missing persons in Central America, and a selection of works from his San Antonio patron Joe Diaz’s collection that have inspired Valdez. Both exhibitions run through Saturday, December 2. 

For 75 years, Art League Houston has been nurturing the Bayou City’s arts community by providing a creative hub for innovators and creators. The gala raised more than $260,000 to support ALH’s continued community engagement, exhibition and public art programs. 

PC Seen: Curator and director of University Museum at Texas Southern University Dr. Alvia Wardlaw; Community Artists Collective co founder and CEO Michelle Barnes; MFAH director Gary Tinterow, curator of Latin American art Mari Carmen Ramírez-Garcia, and curator emerita Anne Wilkes Tucker; Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs director Necole Irvin; Louisa Stude Sarofim; artists Kathy Vargas, Francesca Fuchs, Alex Rubio and Angelbert Metoyer; collector Joe Diaz; Houston’s own Medici Lester Marks and Dr. Penelope Marks; gallerists Kerry Inman, Betty Moody, Lee Steffy and Adrian Page; Tatiana and Craig Massey; Duyen and Marc Nguyen; diplomat William Luers with hiswife, The Foundation for a Civil Society founder Wendy Luers; Kinder Foundation president of parks and civic projects Guy Hagstette and Menil board president Doug Lawing; director of Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Au stin Don Carleton; FotoFest’s executive director Steven Evans and board president William E. Joor III; and Lawndale Art Center executive director Anna Walker.

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