So enthusiastic was the response to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston preview of Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado that the seated dinner portion of the evening had to be relocated from the Beck Building, where the 100-plus works were on display, to the Law building, which could accommodate the 200 eager arts patrons.
So well received was the exhibition, making its only stop in North America, that more than a few in the well-heeled mix were overheard commenting that they would return to savor the paintings in a less socially-infused environment.
Maneuvering around the art crowd, MFAH director Gary Tinterow escorted key players through the exhibition that opens to the public on Sunday. The VIP group included Spanish Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares Satrustegui, Prado Museum director Miguel Zugaza, Hamill Foundation grants director Thomas Brown and BBVA Compass president and CEO Manolo Sánchez, whose company was lead underwriter for the Houston showing.
With images by Diego Velásquez, Francisco de Goya and Titian fresh in the mind's eye, guests moved on to dinner, traveling underground through James Turrell's light tunnel to the Law building for a Spanish-inspired evening of VIP remarks, piano performance of Spanish music by Marta Espinós and flavorful dinner by City Kitchen. (The Spanish almond and white chocolate torte had guests swooning.)
The heavy-hitter gathering included MFAH board chair Cornelia Long and Meredith Long, honorary committee member Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Spanish Consul General Cristobal Valdes, Ann Trammell, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Margaret Alkek Williams with Jim Daniel, Marli and Alfred Glassell, Gwen Goffe, Ed Eubanks, Kathy and Marty Goossen and Elise and Russell Joseph.