The stars aligned at the Long Center for Performing Arts in Austin Wednesday night — and by stars we mean actors, musicians, athletes and big-deal philanthropists who have at least two things in common: Texas and the arts.
- Music: T Bone Burnett (Fort Worth)
- Film: Jamie Foxx (Terrell)
- Dance: Kilgore Rangerettes (Kilgore)
- Visual Arts: Rick Lowe (Houston)
- Literary Arts: Lawrence Wright (Austin)
- Theatre: Robert Schenkkan (Austin)
- Architecture: Charles Renfro (Houston)
- Television: Dan Rather (Wharton)
- Television: Chandra Wilson (Houston)
- Corporate Arts Patron: Dr Pepper Snapple Group (Plano)
- Individual Arts Patron: Margaret McDermott (Dallas)
- Multimedia: Emilio Nicolas (San Antonio)
- Arts Education: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Dallas)
- Standing Ovation Award: Ruth Altshuler (Dallas)
- Lifetime Achievement Award: The Gatlin Brothers (Seminole)
When it was showtime, guests packed into the auditorium and gave a warm welcome to special guest emcees Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, who call NFL games on Fox Sports. Their funny banter ranged from topics as the controversial catch/no catch debate from earlier in the year to Aikman’s Super Bowl trophy to Willie Nelson.
During the presentation, every award recipient received a proper moment of glory. Noteworthy presenters — including Chris Harrison from ABC’s The Bachelor and 2009 Theatre Award recipient Betty Buckley — listed the honorees’ accolades, which were followed by short videos and their acceptance speeches.
Although the night was not lacking in excitement — with performances by the Gatlin Brothers, Steve Miller, and Texas Young Masters Ani Mayo and Amber Pickens — three Houston recipients charmed the crowd with heartfelt remarks.
First up was acclaimed architect and Rice University graduate Charles Renfro, who noted he was bullied as a child for being gay and stressed the importance of open-mindedness. Project Row Houses founder Rick Lowe said he was honored that his unconventional type of artistry struck a chord with those who chose the award winners.
Grey's Anatomy star Chandra Wilson, who was born in Houston and attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, gave big props to her hometown for shaping her into the type of woman she is today. Wilson thanked her mother, Wilma, who was in the audience and noted that she returns to Houston regularly to visit HSPVA and provides scholarships for promising students.
Terrell native Jamie Foxx invited all of the recipients onstage for a rendition of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” with Foxx at the piano and Ray Benson on guitar.
Former CBS anchor Dan Rather got bonus points from all of the ladies in the crowd, because the majority of his speech revolved around his wife, Jean. He praised her not only for her artistic abilities, but also for the knowledge that she bestowed on him throughout the years as he polished his craft.
Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx ended the awards portion of the evening with a walk-through of some of his most beloved impersonations as a comedian and a touching story about his grandmother, who raised him. The proud Terrell native then invited all of the recipients onstage for a rendition of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” with Foxx at the piano and Ray Benson (who says he’s a CultureMap fan) on guitar.
Post awards, recipients and attendees headed to an elaborate tent, which had been transformed by Todd Events into a purple and green botanical wonderland. Todd Fiscus himself was present for this big-deal dinner, along with Houstonians Steven Duble, E.J. Farhood and Jonathan Glus and Dallasites Jerry Jones, Shy Anderson, Jennifer Sampson and Micki Rawlings.
During the feast — beet salad, beef tenderloin with mushroom risotto and chocolate cake — Anderson and Jones thanked everyone who made the night possible, including Texas Cultural Trust chairman Charles Matthews and honorary chairs Gov. Greg Abbott and Cecilia Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Susan Patrick, and Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Julie Straus.
Proceeds from the evening benefit the programs administered by the Texas Cultural Trust, including the Texas Young Masters program. The Texas Medal of Arts Awards are handed out every other year to Texans who exhibit lifelong achievement in their area of expertise.
CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh contributed to this report.