Tuxedos & Table Tennis

Tuxedos & table tennis: Men of Menil experience a smashing night at unique fundraiser

Tuxedos & table tennis: Men of Menil experience a smashing night

Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Michael Mithoff, Shannon Sasser, Josef Helfenstein, Russell Hawkins, Ransom Lummis
Michael Mithoff, from left, Shannon Sasser, Josef Helfenstein, Russell Hawkins and Ransom Lummis. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, James Stewart
James Stewart. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, PAUL HOBBY, EDWARD GRIFFIN, JACK MORINIERE, MAC DUNWOODY, DAN GILBANE
Paul Hobby, from left, Edward Griffin, Jack Moriniere, Mac Dunwoody and Dan Gilbane. Photo by George Hixon
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, David Zhuang, Mark Hazinski, Jim Butler, Eric Owens
David Zhuang, from left, Mark Hazinski, Jim Butler and Eric Owens. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Niraj Oak
Niraj Oak. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, PAUL CHAPMAN, BILL CANNADY, MARSHAL LIGHTMAN
Paul Chapman, from left, Bill Cannady and Marshal Lightman. Photo by George Hixon
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Peter Zweig, Brad Bucher
Peter Zweig, left, and Brad Bucher. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, HARRY PINSON, DAVID BRESLIN, DANIEL DAVISON
Harry Pinson, from left, David Breslin and Daniel Davison. Photo by George Hixon
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Mark Hazinski, Jim Butler, Scott Preiss, Eric Owens, David Zhuang
Mark Hazinski, from left, Jim Butler, Scott Preiss, Eric Owens and David Zhuang. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Michael Mithoff, Shannon Sasser, Josef Helfenstein, Russell Hawkins, Ransom Lummis
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, James Stewart
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, PAUL HOBBY, EDWARD GRIFFIN, JACK MORINIERE, MAC DUNWOODY, DAN GILBANE
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, David Zhuang, Mark Hazinski, Jim Butler, Eric Owens
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Niraj Oak
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, PAUL CHAPMAN, BILL CANNADY, MARSHAL LIGHTMAN
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Peter Zweig, Brad Bucher
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, HARRY PINSON, DAVID BRESLIN, DANIEL DAVISON
Houston, News, Clifford, Men of Menil, April 2015, Mark Hazinski, Jim Butler, Scott Preiss, Eric Owens, David Zhuang

In past years, the Menil Collection's annual black-tie, men-only fundraiser has highlighted sumo wrestling, billiards and fencing as part of its fun-filled sports-themed evening. This go-around, some of the nation's best table tennis players provided the after-dinner entertainment with a smashing exhibition of the sport. 

After a explanation of the finer points by U.S. National Table Tennis coach and trainer Scott Preiss, champion players Jim Butler, Mark Hazinski, David Zhuang and Eric Owens thrilled the crowd with a heated competition from a table set up in the middle of Richmond Hall, the Menil annex that houses Dan Flavin's fluorescent light installation. 

Then they took on a a couple of good-natured volunteers in the tuxedoed crowd. James Stewart, the son of Menil trustee Bill Stewart, gamely competed against one of the champions, who provided him with a larger paddle at one point. Niraj Oak, chief technology officer at Linbeck, the construction company that built the new Bistro Menil, showed his prowess in a close game against Butler. Oak has represented the U.S. in the World Table Tennis Championships.

Before the competition, guests dined on a sumptuous dinner of tuna tartare, rack of spring lamb and chocolate mousse from Jackson and Company. Afterwards, they adjoured to an outdoor tent for cigars, brandy and whiskey.

Seen in the crowd were co-chairs Russell Hawkins, Ransom Lummis, Michael Mithoff and Shannon Sasser, Menil director Josef HelfensteinMarshal Lightman, Paul Hobby, Paul Gilbane, Brad Bucher, Harry Pinson, Edward Griffin, Jack Moriniere, Mac Dunwoody, Bill Cannady, Andrew Echols, Mark Wawro, Tripp Carter, Craig Lidji and Rich Levy.

The evening raised more than $340,000.