The city's rich international profile was never more vibrantly witnessed than Friday night when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston celebrated the premiere of the new permanent gallery dedicated to arts of the Islamic world. The biennial black-tie gala, supporting this initiative, resonated with a cultural communion that brought diplomacy, politics and partying together in one beautiful evening.
Beyond the stunning allure of the cosmopolitan coterie of 400 guests, the beauty of the pieces from the al-Sabah Collection from Kuwait mesmerized those who made their way from the intense socializing in the museum's north foyer to the new gallery.
"These are not possessions for they are possessions in their own right that prove to go beyond boundaries."
Guest of honor was Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al Sabah, director general and co-founder of the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah organization which provided some 60 objects on long-term loan to the MFAH. In brief remarks to the dinner assemblage, she noted the U.S. role in freeing Kuwait from the arms of Iraq and the bond formed therein. Of the works being shared, she said, "These are not possessions for they are possessions in their own right that prove to go beyond boundaries."
The committee that organized the evening, which raised close to $450,000, was comprised of Zeina Fares, Rania Daniel, Monsour Taghdisi, Franci Crane, Sima Ladjevardian, Sultana Mangalji, Sabiha Rehmatulla, Vahid Kooros, Aliyya Stude, Dr. Cenk Ozdogan and Frank Hevrdejs.
Contributing further to the evening's riches were Franci and Jim Crane and Zeina and Nijad Fares, who purchased a 17th century Safavid ceramic bottle (valued at $89,000) for the collection.
It might be noted that the evening marked MFAH director Gary Tinterow's first anniversary with the museum and thus his first Arts of the Islamic World gala.
The vibrant tableau included oversized wall projections of Islamic art motifs, a Middle Eastern-flavored music and dance presentation and the seductive sounds of DJ Hector. City Kitchen provided the impressive Middle Eastern-flavored repast.
Among out-of-town guests soaking up the brilliant ambiance were Mimi and Bill Gates, parents of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates III. She is director of the Seattle Art Museum.
Notables in the gathering included principal underwriters Jaleh and Bruce Sallee, plus Anne and Charles Duncan, Aliyya and Herman Stude, Lily and Hamid Kooros, Christopher Gardner, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Abolala and Nasrin Soudavar, Martha Long, Elyse Lanier, Courtney Sarofim, Diane Lokey Farb, Elizabeth and Gary Petersen, Kathy and Marty Goossen and Alma Kombargi and Hagop Kantarjian.