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Art Party

Graffiti art, wicked tunes take over fab party celebrating the second oldest art museum in Houston

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Sanford and Susie Criner, from left, Bill Arnold and NAMES at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Sanford and Susie Criner, from left, Bill Arning and Marita and J.B. Fairbanks. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Javier and Lucinda Loya at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Javier and Lucinda Loya. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Patrick Renner, left, and Mark McCray at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Patrick Renner, left, and Mark McCray. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Rick Thielke and Claire Cormier Thielke at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Rick Thielke and Claire Cormier Thielke. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Rahul Mitra and Margaret Braun at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Rahul Mitra and Margaret Braun. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Ron White, left, and Ford Hubbard at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Ron Witte, left, and Ford Hubbard. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Lewis and Peggy Metzger, from left, Dr. Penelope Marks and Lester Marks at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Lewis and Peggy Metzger, from left, and Dr. Penelope Marks and Lester Marks. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Gerry and Bruce Fehn, from left, with Judy Nyquist at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Gerry and Bruce Fehn, from left, with Judy Nyquist. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Jimmy and Carolyn Robertson, from left, with Dean Putterman at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Jimmy and Carolyn Robertson, from left, with Dean Putterman. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Bob and Gracie Cavnar at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Bob and Gracie Cavnar. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Jim and Cristina Buaas, from left, Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Jim and Cristina Buaas, from left, Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Tim Maloney, Rebekah Johnson, William Middeton, Jessica Phifer, Caroline Starry LeBlanc, and Jared LeBlanc at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Tim Moloney, from left, Rebekah Johnson, William Middleton, Jessica Phifer, Caroline Starry LeBlanc and Jared LeBlanc. Photo by Morris Malakoff
William Middleton and Fredericka Hunter The venue at the CAMH Gala April 2014
William Middleton and Fredericka Hunter. Photo by Morris Malakoff
NAME, from left, with Becca Cason Thrash and John Thrash at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Randy Powers, from left, with Becca Cason Thrash and John Thrash. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Winnie Simmons and Nic Phillips at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Winnie Simmons and Nic Phillips. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Steve and Ashley Putman, from left, with Alecia Harris at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Steve and Ashley Putman, from left, with Alecia Harris. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Wade Wilson and NAME at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Wade Wilson and Judith Oudt. Photo by Morris Malakoff
The decor at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The decor at the CAMH Gala. Photo by Morris Malakoff
The venue at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The decor at the CAMH Gala. Photo by Morris Malakoff
The crowd at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The crowd at the CAMH Gala. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Sanford and Susie Criner, from left, Bill Arnold and NAMES at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Javier and Lucinda Loya at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Patrick Renner, left, and Mark McCray at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Rick Thielke and Claire Cormier Thielke at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Rahul Mitra and Margaret Braun at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Ron White, left, and Ford Hubbard at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Lewis and Peggy Metzger, from left, Dr. Penelope Marks and Lester Marks at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Gerry and Bruce Fehn, from left, with Judy Nyquist at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Jimmy and Carolyn Robertson, from left, with Dean Putterman at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Bob and Gracie Cavnar at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Jim and Cristina Buaas, from left, Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Tim Maloney, Rebekah Johnson, William Middeton, Jessica Phifer, Caroline Starry LeBlanc, and Jared LeBlanc at the CAMH Gala April 2014
William Middleton and Fredericka Hunter The venue at the CAMH Gala April 2014
NAME, from left, with Becca Cason Thrash and John Thrash at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Winnie Simmons and Nic Phillips at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Steve and Ashley Putman, from left, with Alecia Harris at the CAMH Gala April 2014
Wade Wilson and NAME at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The decor at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The venue at the CAMH Gala April 2014
The crowd at the CAMH Gala April 2014

A shot of Patrón or Cosmo? As a file of servers in jeans and black shirts splattered with streaks of neon paint offered liquid fuel as amuse bouches, some of the impeccably dressed throng — Becca Cason Thrash in Naeem Khan, Claire Cormier Thielke in Christian Dior and Diane Lokey Farb in Chanel — at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's 65th Anniversary Gala and Art Auction "Keeping It Now" Friday thought exactly as this reporter did.

Why not both?

You could hear many of the 300 guests oohing and aahing as a grungy-yet-refined milieu bathed with street art grit unfolded.

Inspired by an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York that features the works of graffiti artist and social activist Keith Haring, whose aesthetic responds to iconic issues of the 1980s, Rebekah Johnson created a striking ambiance that burst with color in the many square fabric chandeliers that hung from the ceiling (repurposed from last year's Menil Collection's "Bleu Electrique" soirée), large canvasses that enveloped the space and table bases.

 Earning top dollar above the estimated value was a portrait commission, studio session from William Wegman, for which an anonymous bidder via proxy was willing to pay $29,000.

Of course anything chaired by Susie Criner, as the owner of Gulf Coast Entertainment, and hubby Sanford is guaranteed to have wicked tunes. Fitting for the reception and dinner, great songs from the big hair era filled the museum as guests enjoyed an herb-crusted tenderloin dinner catered by Jackson and Co. We thought the trio of cold soups served in paint cans topped with a tiny light bulb was quite clever.

Adding to the party prowess that honored Carol C. Ballard, Sissy Kempner and Marilyn Oshman were chairs J.B. and Marita Fairbanks, who looked like a million bucks in a gorgeous off-one-shoulder red hot number, particularly when she was spotted on the dance floor busting a move to soul tunes courtesy of the Big Blast and the Party Masters band.

Works by Barnaby Furnas, Jason Villegas, Melissa Miller and Dario Robleto enticed collectors during the live auction with Christie's Steven Zick. Mack Fowler, recalling the time he served in Vietnam, was set on winning a crystal sculpture by Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Earning top dollar above the estimated value was a portrait commission, studio session from William Wegman, for which an anonymous bidder via proxy was willing to pay $29,000 — well done.

Celebrating the second oldest art museum in Houston with director Bill Arning and partner Mark McCray were Lucinda and Javier Loya, John Thrash, Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Judy Nyquist, Cece Fowler, Tim Moloney, William Middleton, Caroline Starry LeBlanc and Jared LeBlanc, Winnie Simmons and Nic Phillips, Fredericka Hunter, Lewis and Peggy Metzger, Dr. Penelope Marks and Lester Marks, Dean Putterman, Cristina and Jim Buaas, Mark Sullivan, Gerry and Bruce Fehn, Karen Farber, Isabelle David and Rick Thielke.

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