Society / Featured Parties

Women Power This Great Night for a Houston Museum, Making it One of the Year’s Best Parties

When Art Dominates the Menu

BY // 12.24.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

Count this as one of the highlights of Houston’s 2019 Social Calendar.

The always elegant and buzzy Another Great Night in November is a staple for every It-girl, merging old guard and new, soigné swans and grandes dames, savvy collectors and the power social set.

At the annual Contemporary Arts Museum Houston fundraiser, dressing up is de rigueur, as is knowledge of the contemporary art world: If you can drop names of gallerist pals, artists you’re tracking, or your Art Basel itinerary, even better.

Finally, there’s the delicious opportunity to tour, then dine in a private home — always one with a tony art collection.

This year, 220 women generated $227,000 for the CAMH’s coffers, thanks to pairing accomplished co-chairs Yvonne Cormier and Mary D’Andrea with a new entrée on the social scene, Erika Toussaint. The Toussaints’ old-world home, designed by Curtis & Windham with interiors by Ann Wolf and art advisement by Lea Weingarten, drew ahhhs and a traffic jam at the entry’s show-stopping mirrored wall sculpture by Teresita Fernández.

Also on the art menu — an emphasis on female creators. Decked-out guests engaged in self-guided tours of a collection that stood out for its embrace of talents such as Ninth Street painters Helen Frankenthaler and Elaine de Kooning, as well as textile great Sheila Hicks, Hedda Sterne, Latin American minimalist sculptor Gego, Texas modernist Toni LaSelle, and contemporary artists  Melanie Smith, Mimi Lauter and Erin O’Keefe.

Rebekah Johnson devised a dramatic tent-scape punctuated by a dichroic-glass chandelier (with decor underwritten by Karen Pulaski and Tribute Goods), while City Kitchen’s Latin-infused menu, beginning with cocktail-hour mojitos, nodded to the host’s Cuban ancestry (think sea bass a la Viszcaina with Spanish olives, pan de queso, and as sweet finale — crème caramel with candied orange and rum caramel sauce).

A luxury raffle took the place of the traditional treasure hunt, underwritten by The Galleria. Coveted loot from the shopping Mecca’s retailers De Beers Jewellers, Max Mara, Saint Laurent, Salvatore Ferragamo and The Webster went to five lucky winners: Hanh Langlinais (scoring the De Beers rose-gold pendant), Angela Lee (who will indulge in a Ferragamo shopping experience), Renée Lewis Cary (acquiring a Max Mara handbag), Ileana Couret-Endom (recipient of the Saint Laurent handbag), and Kristina Somerville (taking home the Chloé handbag from The Webster).

All the Art Names

CAMH interim director Christina Brungardt and curators Rebecca Matalon and Patricia Restrepo; museum trustee and gallerist Bryn Larsen delivering dinner remarks about the museum’s 70-plus-year history; a fleet of gallerists including Nancy Littlejohn, Kerry Inman, Allison Ayers, Laura Rathe, and Sarah Foltz; and collector types Marita Fairbanks, Heidi Gerger with sister Syvlie Wozasek in from Vienna, Sissy Kempner, Leigh Smith, Jereann Chaney, and Judy Nyquist.

Also on the scene: Jessica Phifer with Christie’s; The Galleria’s manager of luxury retailers, Lisa Bendfeldt; Kari Gonzales of Cartier; Fendi’s Yamaki Dharrampaul and Amara Hang; PaperCity‘s Monica Bickers, Meredith Chastang, and Anne Lee Phillips; and Kelly Silvers, art advisers Melissa Kepke GrobmyerLiz Anders, and Elise Arnoult Miller, Eileen Lawal, Roslyn Bazzelle MitchellCourtney Hopson, Isabel David, Philamena Baird, artist Page Kempner, the co-chair’s daughter Claire Cormier Thielke in from Hong Kong, Melissa Mithoff, and Found’s Ruth Davis.

And save the date: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Gala will be Friday, April 3, at the CAMH; Margaret Vaughan Cox and Jonathan Cox, and Cabrina and Steven Owsley co-chair; info Beth Peré, gala@camh.org.

Read more about the museum’s avant-garde new director here.

Watch curator Rebecca Matalon’s conversation with the museum’s now-on-view exhibition artist, a current Rome Prize Fellow, here.

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