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International art world heavyweights celebrate FotoFest's Arab breakthrough at a swanky high-rise

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Slavka Glaser and Fred Baldwin at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Slavka Glaser and Fred Baldwin. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Hamza Serafi and Susie Criner at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Hamza Serafi and Susie Criner. Photo by Vinod Hopson
The buffet table at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
The buffet included Middle Eastern delicacies. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Page Kempner, from left, Fredericka Hunter and Phuong Tranvan at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Page Kempner, from left, Fredericka Hunter and Phuong Tranvan. Photo by Vinod Hopson
The crowd at at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
The crowd at at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Wendy Watriss and Pavel Bank at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Wendy Watriss and Pavel Banka. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Slavka Glaser, from left, John Parsley, Fred Baldwin, Wendy Watriss and Elisabeth Biondi at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Slavka Glaser, from left, Denise Bethel, John Parsley, Fred Baldwin, Wendy Watriss and Elisabeth Biondi. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Rudeina Baasiri, from left, Hadia Mawlawi and Ayman ElSemary at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Rudeina Baasiri, from left, Hadia Mawlawi and Ayman ElSemary. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Karima AlShomely, left, and Simone Anna Blumenthal at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Karima AlShomely, left, and Simone Anna Blumenthal. Photo by Vinod Hopson
Slavka Glaser and Fred Baldwin at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Hamza Serafi and Susie Criner at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
The buffet table at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Page Kempner, from left, Fredericka Hunter and Phuong Tranvan at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
The crowd at at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Wendy Watriss and Pavel Bank at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Slavka Glaser, from left, John Parsley, Fred Baldwin, Wendy Watriss and Elisabeth Biondi at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014
Rudeina Baasiri, from left, Hadia Mawlawi and Ayman ElSemary at Slavka Glaser's FotoFest reception March 2014
Karima AlShomely, left, and Simone Anna Blumenthal at Slavka Glaser's  FotoFest reception March 2014

What: Cocktail reception celebrating the FotoFest 2014 Biennial, highlighting Arab Contemporary Art & Photography, and toasting FotoFest founders Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss.

Where: At the home of Slavka Glaser.

The 411: High on the list of social events surrounding FotoFest, the biennial extravaganza that brings top photographers from around the world to Houston, is Glaser's reception, which unites photographers with art world cognescenti and key movers and shakers. More than 100 people filled Glaser's high-rise apartment near Hermann Park, where, in keeping with the Middle Eastern theme, Zubeir Al Awadi played the oud (Gulf Coast Entertainment owner Susie Criner discovered the Iraqi refugee) as guests sampled a wide array of delicacies, including kibbee, hummus and shisk kabob, from Fadi's Mediterranean Grill and Chateau Musar - Hochar wines from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Who: Artists/photographers Ayman ElSemary, Rula Halawani, Karima Al Shomely, Steve Sabella and Samer Mohdad mingled with Menil Collection director Josef Helfenstein, Patricia Winkler, Arab American Cultural and Community Center board member Rudeina Baasiri, Hadia Mawlawi, Cynthia Toles, Sissy and Denny Kempner, Page Kempner, Jim and Sheryl Kempner, FotoFest executive director Steven Evans, FotoFest board president Greg Spier, FotoFest board members Kath Blanco, John Parsley and Phuong Tranvan, and Biennial lead curator Karin Adrian von Roques.

Houston gallerists included Sicardi Gallery owner Maria-Inez Sicardi, Deborah Colton Gallery owner Deborah Colton and Texas Gallery owner Fredericka Hunter, along with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston photography curator Anne Wilkes Tucker.

International art heavyweights included Sigrid Kirk, co-founder of Arts-Co, and Alexis Levin, both in from London, along with Margarita Berloni and Robin Mann from the Berloni GalleryHamza Serafi of the Athr Gallery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Omar Donia, publisher of  Dubai-based Contemporary Practices magazine, Czech photographer Pavel Banka, Sotheby's senior vice president Denise Bethel, New York curator Elisabeth Biondi and Gitterman Gallery owner Tom Gitterman.

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