McKay Otto & Keith Coffee (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Mayor Sylvester Turner, honoree Marilyn Oshman (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Co-chair Karen Lubetkin Desenberg (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Co-chairs Andrew & Cindy Lubetkin (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Mauney Mafrige (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Monica Duff, Don Mafrige Jr., Suzy Simons (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Dean Ruck & Debbie McNulty (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Amber Eagle & Guillermo Rosas (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Jonathan Beitler, Elaine Dillard, John Mills-McCoin (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Ann Hyde & John Kerr Smither (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Cindy Burnham, Lynnette Mafrige (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Gajin & Angela Fujita (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Debra Linse, Mister McKinney, Martra Fredricks, Michele Grinstead Griffiths, auction chair Erica Levit (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Mark Sullivan, Stuart Rosenberg (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Mace & Melanie Meeks, Anne & Noble Carl (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Kathy Masterson, Ann Singleton (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Adrián Dueñas, Elaine Dillard, Marcelo Saenz (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Jamie Lubetkin (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Sarah Deutser, Ceron (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Sandra Garcia (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Glen & Tracy Larner (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Mister McKinney, Catherine D. Anspon (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Elly & Philip Berman (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Kari Roundy, Libbie Masterson, Dallas McNamara (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
John Abodeely, Ed Kachinske, Lynette Wallace, Heidi Vaughan, Alton DuLaney (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Clare Cusack, Melissa Dobrowski, Curry Glassell (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Denise & Philip Bahr (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Eduardo Portillo (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Martha & Richard Finger, Arianna Finger (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Lance & Valerie Rosmarin (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Martha Claire Tompkins, Bob Richter (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Michael & Gayle Collins, Karen & Cameron Rezai (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Will & Julia Robinson (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Jack & Star Massing (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Melisa B. Herring (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Katie & Jon Deal, Tee & Charles Wickman (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Susannah Wallace, Catherine Masterson, Mary Rothwell, Aliyya Stude (Photo by Mike Herrera)
JoAnn Williams (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Suzy Simons, Wayne Blosat & Victor Juarez (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Charles & Chandel Hancock (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Lane & Bob Schultz (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Dave & Madeline Merrill, Molly Kemp, Jane Vivion, Martin Pitts (Photo by Mike Herrera)
Todd & Paige Johnson (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Tracy & Harry Faulkner, Harriet Rosmarin Gertner (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
The Orange Wig Crew (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
This is the tale of one storied art night whose well chosen and worthy honoree — collector, patron, arts leader, maven of Houston museums, Orange Show founder and all around luminary, Marilyn Oshman — doubled attendance and blasted fundraising records, while setting an already very high bar on inventive costuming and raucous fun.
In fact, we’ll stake the claim that Orange Show Gala 2019 was the best of its kind in this arts nonprofit’s 38-year history and one of the Top 10 Houston parties of the year. Woe to those who doubt it.
We can back this claim up — scroll through the slideshow above this story, as well as the images within, for scenes from one of the smartest costume bashes we’ve ever attended.
Kudos to the honorees’ well connected, and hard-working progeny, Karen Lubetkin Desenberg and Andrew Lubetkin and wife, Cindy Lubetkin; the trio stepped up as gala chairs to forge an unforgettable evening high in energy, imagination, and revelry that in every way lived up to its title — Texas Legends, Tall Tales, and Marvels.
A phalanx of art cars at the entry way to the Orange Show’s newest acquisition, a 31,000 square foot warehouse/party palace, set the stage for one evening for the Texas party annals.
Also deserving acclaim was Art Guy Jack Massing, who curated the party props and outrageous decor, enlisting his art buddy network of more than 40 Houston talents who crafted details both artful and clever: a tunnel of tinsel and twinkling lights that greeted partygoers at the entrance where at its bend, a honkytown band played on; the hand-carved likeness of Miz Oshman on horseback that punctuated the bar area near where the mechanical bull held court, a recreation of an old timey Western saloon, and the inventive tabletops where slices of paper oranges festooned with glitter marked the names of the big table buyers.
Among the parade of more than 700 who came together to raise serious green — a chart-toppin’ more than $900,000 — were auction chairs Erica Levit and Lance Rosmarin, overseeing a 200-piece silent auction packed with art goodies and special experiences, that contributed more than $200,000 to the bottom line.
Up for bid were works by inimitable talents including James Surls, Sharon Kopriva, McKay Otto, Eduardo Portillo, Andrea Bianconi (going to lucky collector Bruce Eames), Agnès Bourély, Thornton Dial, Dick Wray, Paul Kittelson, Gajin Fujita in from L.A., Bert Long Jr., Michael Collins, Claire Cusack, Michael Crawford, Susie Rosmarin, Art Car Museum director Noah Edmundson, Dan Phillips (architect of Smither Park), the Glassell School’s Susan Budge, and The Art Guys. (The evening was dedicated to late, much beloved artists Michael Galbreth of The Art Guys, and Nancy Kienholz.)
Joining the art bounty were unique offerings like a tour of the Menil Collection’s Treasure Room followed by dinner at Marilyn Oshman’s home, a jaunt to a hacienda in San Miguel, New Year’s Eve in the Crescent City in an historic French Quarter loft, a party for 300 at Smither Park, and a full on Art Car Weekend capped by a wild ride in a special art car during the world’s largest Art Car Parade.
It’s Marilyn’s Day
What better way to commemorate the iconic Miz Oshman than proclaiming this calendar date Marilyn Oshman Day, complete with a surprise appearance by Mayor Sylvester Turner and congratulatory remarks from the podium for Our Lady of the Orange Show. And the crowd went wild with thunderous applause from the assembled crew of family, friends, fellow museum trustees, collector types, and a cast of artists Oshman has championed over the years.
Culinary Feats + Musical Headliners
For this epic night, only Tony’s would do. Guests were provided menu options in advance — center-cut prime filet, seared wild sea bass Pompelmo, or grilled polenta pave — while the top underwriter tables earned their own private bartender.
Entertainment, continuing the Orange Show Gala’s grand tradition was exuberant and over-the-top. Crescent City-based Bag of Donuts led off during the cocktail hour, followed by the Brit band The English Beat with its history that extends back to Birmingham, England in 1979. Then Bag of Donuts took the stage one more time, to close the party down with its Superpop musical stylings paired with outrageous costuming, Kiss-flavored and beyond.
Texas Legends and Marvelous Costuming
Drum roll: here are a few of our favorite wildly appareled guests:
Dixie Friend Gay as Ann Richards, complete with political swagger, a white-fringed pantsuit, and bouffant hair; Marta Fredricks attired as a Whataburger attendant, with all the droll white-and-orange wardrobe details; as a proud Native American, none other than Ceron; Maaaarvin Zindler, channeled by a microphone-wielding Mark Sullivan; the understated Marfa Mystery Lights donned by JoAnn Williams; Wild West duo cowgirl cultural ambassador Debbie McNulty, with the Mayor’s Office, alongside husband, artist Dean Ruck with an incredible ‘stache; Franny Koelsch going glam on the range, wearing her own line, Ears of Buddha, in a saucy satin and lace pant-and-Western shirt ensemble; and McKay Otto and Keith Coffee, as Saltimbanque harlequins, so Picasso worthy.
We also loved Rickey Polidore sporting a resplendent headdress that screamed Mardi Gras; Mauney Mafrige as a saucy Anna Nicole Smith shod in stripper heels who poised gracefully sidesaddle on the mechanical bull; Don Mafrige Jr., convincingly portraying medical legend Dr. Red Duke; Glen Larner as a ringer for Kinky Friedman down to the stogie; Moon-ready astronaut Ann Singleton; and Melisa B. Herring wielding pom poms as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.