Somehow we had the misconception that Thursday night's preview party launch of the Houston Fine Art Fair would in fact be all about the art. And surely that was the intent. But with such a commanding turnout of the city's top rung movers and shakers, the night was as much about social interacting as it was about artful shopping.
No one was complaining, however, as Reliant Center practically buzzed with enthusiasm for the new venue and the expanded selection of artworks. Practically everyone was praising the second annual HFAF, much to the pleasure of Rick Friedman, HFAF president, and to Melissa Grobmyer and Janet Hobby, the MKG Art Management duo who are serving as fair advisors. Interestingly, the excitement was as much for the rich and vast selection of art offered as it was for the boost that this event gives the city.
Discussion in some corners centered on the possibility that Art Basel was losing some of its art world clout due to the relentless emphasis on lavish partying that dilutes its focus.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow and partner Christopher Gardner were among early arrivals as was Joe Havel, director of the MFAH Glassell School, its Core Program beneficiary of preview party ticket proceeds.
Marshal Lightman, last year's president of the Houston Arts Alliance, involved in organization of the first HFAF, and Victoria Lightman, co-curator of this year's Core Factor exhibition highlighting top Core Program alumni, relished the palpable verve. Houston Arts Alliance CEO Jonathon Glus and partner Alton LaDay were among the early arrivals as were University of Houston Architecture Dean Patricia Oliver, former city councilman Peter Brown and collectors Jereann Chaney and Mary and Roy Cullen.
Despite the social push on this particular evening, discussion in some corners centered on the possibility that Art Basel Miami Beach, the country's premier art fair, was losing some of its art world clout due to the relentless emphasis on lavish partying that dilutes the focus of the fair. Hello, Houston with a tighter sensibility. Some see a growing opportunity for H-Town.
The bustling preview party crowd included Bevin and Dan Dubrowski, Mary Haus and Willard Holmes, Ann Duncan, Betty and Stephen Newton, Don Mafridge, Greggory Fourticq, Elena Cockrell, Rania Daniel, Sima Ladjevardian, Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, Divya Brown, Jennifer Roosth, Yvonne and Scott Zeigler and Jo and Jim Furr.