Our Favorite Texas Personalities on How They’d Like to Be Drawn

In Honor of Dallas Arts Month, We Play the Portrait Parlour Game

BY Catherine D. Anspon with Billy Fong // 04.19.24

We adore parlour games. Beyond the intriguing info that might be gathered, it’s a lifesaver when dinner-party chatter turns into an extended pause or veers into politics. Here’s one we love to pull from our quiver of queries: “Who do you dream of doing your portrait?” The artist — living or dead — can work in any medium, from painting or sculpture to photography. For April Arts Month, we approached some of our favorite Texas personalities with this hypothetical. Some took the assignment to heart and sent back thorough, insightful answers. Others offered a quick and witty réponse. We adore them all.

Julian Schnabel’s Large Girl With No Eyes, 2001. JULIAN SCHNABEL (ABRAMS © 2003), © JULIAN SCHNABEL

CORNELIA GUEST, actress; animal activist; daughter of C.Z and Winston Guest; former Deb of the Decade; author of The Debutante’s Guide to Life.

“Having been painted by Andy Warhol, I think I’d like Julian Schnabel, as I adore his work. Or perhaps an Old Master … maybe Tiepolo … I would love him to paint me with all my dogs.”


LEFT: Nicolas Party’s Red Portrait, 2017. (THOMAS MUELLER) | RIGHT: Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, 1907-1908, at Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. (ART OF THE 20TH CENTURY (TASCHEN, © 2000) © BELVEDERE, VIENNA)

HOWARD AND CINDY RACHOFSKY, among ARTnews Top 200 Collectors; residence is a Richard Meierdesigned art repository, The Rachofsky House; founders TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art.

Howard Rachofsky

“How about Nicolas Party, our 2024 TWO x TWO honoree. His haunting and mysterious figures stay in your mind long after you’ve been in their presence, and his eccentric color palette would show me in a new light.”

Cindy Rachofsky

“Mine would be Gustav Klimt — similar to his painting The Kiss. Being married to Mr. Romance (dashing husband and art-world partner Howard Rachofsky), I think of us when I see that beautiful painting. The romantic subject matter, the sentimental iconography and intimate embrace … I love it all. Howard, not so much.”


Richard Pettibone’s “Andy Warhol’s Elvis, 1964” 1971.

BRIAN BOLKE, luxury merchant; founder of Forty Five Ten and The Conservatory; chaired Dallas Museum of Art’s Art Ball and TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art.

“For sure, Andy Warhol. I’d want a series, of course, in big bold colors, but I’d be perfectly happy with a Polaroid.”


Gabriel Rico’s XI from the series — Nimble and sinister tricks (to be preserved without scandal and corruption), 2022. (@GABRIELRICOSTUDIO)

JOHN SUGHRUE, co-creator and producer of Dallas Art Fair; founder, Brook Partners and Fashion Industry Gallery; developer, Museum Tower; president, Dallas Contemporary.

“Gabriel Rico creates sculptured works comprised of found and created objects that can read almost like a mathematics equation. Indeed, math equations can be embedded in the work. I find the work aesthetically beautiful; it inspires contemplation and self-awareness. If Rico could compose my portrait in equation form, perhaps the mystery of my life might be solved. That would get my attention.”


Rory Gevis’ A Beautiful Man, 2015.

DONALD ROBERTSON, @drawbertson; prolific illustrator and pop artist; bon vivant; launched VivaGlam! for MAC Cosmetics; collabs with Jenna Lyons, Veronica Beard, Mark Cross, Mattel, Colette Paris.

“Rory Gevis. I believe in buying art from living artists — the dead ones don’t need the cash.”


Diego Velázquez’s Retrato del Papa Inocencio X, circa 1650, at Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.

ROBERT McCLAIN, founder of blue-chip McClain Gallery; known for his commitment to Texas greats from John Alexander to Dorothy Hood; fresh off chairing Rothko Chapel Art Auction.

“There is no art form that has informed us so much about the human condition as portraiture in its long history and influence. For my portrait, two artists come to mind, both from entirely different periods in history, but both gifted in capturing the psychological and emotional gravity of its sitter. Egon Schiele, the brilliant young Viennese artist who died at 28, created most of his works in the decade of WWI. His self-portraits capture a grotesque beauty rippling with agony and smoldering sexuality. If there is one portrait that haunts me, it’s Diego Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. Francis Bacon declared it one of the greatest portraits that has ever been made.”


Wolfgang Tillmans’ Lutz and Alex Sitting in the Trees, 1992, at MoMA, NYC. (THE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK (PHAIDON © 2000); COURTESY INTERIM ART, LONDON / ANDREA ROSEN GALLERY, NYC.)

CAMERON SILVER, founder of L.A. vintage powerhouse Decades; created exhibition for MOCA; dresses top celebs for the red carpet; starred in Bravo’s The Dukes of Melrose.

“I would love to be photographed by Wolfgang Tillmans. Many years ago, I attended an opening reception at Regen Projects in Los Angeles, followed by a dinner in honor of Mr. Tillmans. The rawness of the images left an indelible impact that continues to captivate me.”


Matisse’s Portrait of Greta Moll, 1908, at National Gallery, London, England.

REBECCA RABINOW, director of The Menil Collection; decadeslong curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; under her Menil watch, exhibited under-recognized women artists from Chryssa to Ruth Asawa (up now at Menil Drawing Institute).

“Many years ago, as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I helped organize an exhibition focused on Henri Matisse’s interest in textiles. A preparatory research trip included an afternoon at the artist’s foundation, which operated from Matisse’s former Paris apartment overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame cathedral. As we were sorting through a trunk of fabrics that Matisse had kept in his studio, his grandson went to the closet and pulled out a white fur coat. I immediately recognized it from various artworks. He insisted that I try it on, and wouldn’t you know, it fit perfectly! Everyone in the room agreed that if Matisse had been present, he would have insisted on drawing my portrait. I wonder what the drawing might have looked like.”


LEFT: Lucian Freud’s Man with a Thistle (Self Portrait), 1946, at Tate Britain. | RIGHT: Alberto Giacometti’s Tall Woman IV, circa 1960-1961, at Fondation Giacometti, Paris. (© SUCCESSION ALBERTO GIACOMETTI / ADAGP, PARIS, 2022)

DAVID AND ANN SUTHERLAND, founders of Sutherland and Perennials brands; art collectors.

David Sutherland

“I would want Lucian Freud, an artist whose work is anything but realistic — which would scare me — but totally recognizable. A ‘soft’ Picasso, if you will.”

Ann Sutherland

“I will take Alberto Giacometti as a sculpture, as his stylized bronzes represent the Existentialist point of view. As I ponder his figures, I realize that his viewpoint would translate me as tall and thin — something I have always admired but not quite achieved.”


John Singer Sargent’s Sir Neville Wilkinson on the Steps of the Palladian Bridge at Wilton House, 1904-1905, at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

WILLIAM CURTIS, founding principal of classical architecture firm, Curtis & Windham Architects; founding board member, Texas Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art; recipient of ICAA Arthur Ross Award, Palladio Awards, and multiple John Staub Awards; watercolorist.

“I would go with John Singer Sargent and request a watercolor portrait. Unlike typical oil portraiture, watercolor is a fast and loose medium that results in many happy accidents. We might all benefit from the lightness, brevity, and clarity of beholding our own image in watercolor.”


ARYZ’s Esperando Para Tener Prisa, 2020, in Leiria, Portugal.

DUAL, buzzy Texas artist acclaimed for aerosol action; successfully rebounded from tagging trains to gallery walls; collabs with LeBron James Family Foundation, Pabst Brewing Company, Dickies Workwear, Sprite.

“If I had to choose a single artist, it would be ARYZ. In the street art/graffiti scene, there have been so many artists that created awesome portraits, but ARYZ is the one to me who has a unique style. His juxtaposition of subject matter along with composition creates a strong painting that also has a very mysterious feel. His selection of location for his street work is damn near perfection.”


George Condo’s Red Antipodular Portrait, 1996, at Sprüth Magers.

LESTER MARKS, Art League Houston’s 2002 Texas Patron of the Year; often figures in ARTnews Top 200 Collectors and Art & Antiques 100 of America’s Top Collectors issues; recently segued from blue-chip to investigating Black artists.

“I would choose George Condo. No one including myself wants to look at a realistic portrait of my ugly mug. George could spice things up a bit!”


Georgia O’Keeffe’s Trees in Autumn, 1920-1921, at Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe. (THE GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM [ABRAMS, © 1997])

ANITA SMITH, interior designer; art collector; co-chaired $10 million capital campaign to restore Project Row Houses’ Eldorado Ballroom; co-chair with Leigh Smith and their respective husbands, Gerald Smith and Reggie Smith, of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Gala, April 6.

“Georgia O’Keeffe … To spend time with this amazing trailblazer female artist would be a treasured gift.


John Singer Sargent’s Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1883–1884, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

MICHELLE NUSSBAUMER, famed interior designer; owner of Ceylon et Cie; queen of the Ikat; chatelaine of a chalet in Gstaad and hacienda in San Miguel de Allende.

“It’s a toss-up, starting with John Singer Sargent. Who wouldn’t want to be immortalized by the famous 19th-century society painter? I especially love his portrait Madame X. I wouldn’t mind a portrait by Frida Kahlo. Imagine the variety of color, ethnic dress, and flower crowns. Not to mention her pet monkeys.”


Will Cotton’s Cotton Candy Katy, 2010, album cover art for Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, 2010. (WILL COTTON: PAINTINGS & WORKS ON PAPER [RIZZOLI © 2011])

LEIGH SMITH, fearless supporter of performing and visual arts; art collector; co-chair with Anita Smith, and respective husbands Reggie Smith and Gerald Smith of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Gala April 6.

“My fantasy portrait would be painted by either Francis Picabia, Will Cotton, or a funky Surrealist-type portrait by George Condo. Picabia’s portraits are moody and dramatic women with simplified features often heavily outlined. Will Cotton has painted pop icons like Katy Perry into his fantastic landscapes of candy, whipped cream, cupcakes, and cotton candy. His narratives reflect desire, indulgence, and our overblown consumer’s ‘land of plenty.’ And Cotton’s work is just pretty. Of course, George Condo would not paint me in a flattering light, but the result would be a gorgeous, strange, and iconic painting.”


Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Pieter Soutman (detail), 1628, at Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

GARY TINTEROW, director of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; scholar of 19th- and early-20th-century European painting and sculpture; the force behind the MFAH’s dazzling Kinder Building and Sarofim Campus.

“One of my most prized possessions is a portrait silhouette of me by Kara Walker that she gave to me. But if I were to transport myself to another era, I would sit for Nicholas Hilliard or Anthony van Dyck.”


René Magritte’s L’idée (The Idea), 1966. (MAGRITTE: IDEAS AND IMAGES (ABRAMS © 1977))

NANCY STRAUSS HALBREICH, former board member, Dallas Museum of Art; former senior associate of Fine and Decorative Arts, Heritage Auction Galleries; dedicated philanthropist; daughter of former Dallas mayor Annette Strauss.

“I’m afraid John Singer Sargent would be too on the nose. Let’s go with Magritte. He’ll likely cover my face with a green apple or a tree … but given that I shun the spotlight and am camera-shy, that is just fine.”


Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #574, 2016, at National Portrait Gallery, London.

CHRISTEN WILSON, two passions: art and fashion; chaired DMA’s Silver Supper and TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art; often found front row at NYC and Paris fashion shows.

“My choice would be Cindy Sherman. She wouldn’t just photograph me, she’d ‘Shermanize’ me, turning my likeness into a piece of art that screams fashion, but with a skew.”


René Magritte’s Le fils de l’homme (The Son of Man), 1964, private collection.

TANNER MOUSSA, furniture designer alongside his sister, Mackenzie Moussa Lewis; co-founder MOUS.

“Magritte, who painted The Son of Man, which popped up in the iconic The Thomas Crown Affair. I’m drawn to his portrayal of the ethereal unknown — head in the clouds, piquing curiosity, blending reality with the unexpected.”


Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665, at the Mauritshuis, The Hague.

JAMES SURLS, one of the preeminent living artists from Texas working in the U.S. today; sculptor; heroic works in wood are in collections of Smithsonian American Art Museum, MoMA, Guggenheim, Whitney.

“I asked my wife, artist Charmaine Locke, who she would choose to do her portrait, and she said Georgia O’Keeffe. I asked her why, and her answer was ‘Because she did very vivid, colorful, and romantic portrayals of nature and was one of the most important, if not the most important female artists of the 20th century.’ That answer made me wonder who indeed I would choose. There is much to make me think that Vermeer may be the most important and best painter of all time … He would not only paint what represented the outside of me, but also what was inside of me.”


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Trumpet (detail), 1984, at Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida. (BASQUIAT BY MARC MAYER (MERRELL © 2005). COURTESY NORTON MUSEUM OF ART.)

ERIN MATHEWS, titan in the real estate world; art collector; Chanel aficionado.

“My dream artist would be Jean-Michel Basquiat. I’m confident his portrait of me would show more than just the physical but also the true ‘me’ — with empathy.”


Tomoo Gokita’s Female Head, 2023, at Petzel, NYC.

JANET HOBBY, board chairman of The Menil Collection; partner in art advisory MKG Art Management; with husband Paul Hobby, among Houston’s dashing philanthropic arts couples.

“The artist that comes to mind is Tomoo Gokita. He’s inspired by ’60s and ’70s Japanese and American subcultures, and his work is emotionally charged. His portraits are always distorted and eerily anonymous. Very unsettling, but super interesting.”


Michael Shane Neal’s Self Portrait (detail), 2011.

CERON, solamente Ceron; our own Warren Beatty in Shampoo; hairstylist to the stars.

“I would looooveee [exact enunciation] Michael Shane Neal. I’m fascinated with the fabulous way he portrays people. So elegant and beautiful. I’m a huge fan, but I would need gobs of money to afford a sitting. Love-love-love his work.”


Slim Aarons’ iconic image of the Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra, Palm Springs, 1970. (SLIM AARONS: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION [ABRAMS © 2023] PHOTO © SLIM AARONS/Getty Images)

PHOEBE TUDOR, Astrodome savior; passionate preservationist; benevolent friend of Hermann Park, Houston Ballet, Asia Society, and Rice University.

“My choice would be Slim Aarons, I’m kind of into the whole Swans thing right now. I would get family and friends to join me in creating one of his stylish scenes, maybe inside the Astrodome!”


Chuck Close’s Kate, 2007, jacquard woven tapestry, published by Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA. (MAGNOLIA EDITIONS, OAKLAND, CA)

BARBARA DAVIS, founder of Barbara Davis Gallery, incubator for eminent international contemporary artists such as Julie Mehretu, Andrea Bianconi, and Shahzia Sikander.

“I would choose Chuck Close, because in his interpretation, he’s able to reveal the essence of the subject.”


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