Among the various celebrations over the weekend of James Turrell's Skyspace at Rice University, none was more moving or perhaps more meaningful than the Saturday night intimate dinner at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Museum trustee Brad Bucher and wife Leslie, both Rice graduates, hosted the Turrell salute along with MFAH director Gary Tinterow.
In order to take advantage of the museum's most vivid Turrell work, guests entered through the new Beck Building, moved to the lower level and transferred to the Law Building via the Wilson Tunnel where the artist's installation, The Light Inside, challenges visual perception.
The Skyspace is "the crown jewel for art and culture in Houston."
"Today, the Wilson Tunnel remains not only a vital link between the MFAH’s two major gallery buildings, but also stands in its own right as one of the most beloved art spaces in Houston," Tinterow e-mailed following the dinner. "Now, with the unveiling of his magnificent new work for Rice University, the Museum and Rice are once again united as the central poles on Houston’s cultural axis."
Tinterow, Brad Bucher, Austin's Suzanne Deal Booth (who commissioned the $5 million Skyspace) and Turrell each spoke briefly, offering heartfelt remarks to the gathering that included out-of-town guests who had come in for the Skyspace dedication on Friday. Tinterow observed that the Skyspace is "the crown jewel for art and culture in Houston."
The MFAH connection with Turrell is amplified by James Turrell: A Retrospective, opening here in the spring of 2013. That exhibition was conceived in tandem with the MFAH, the Los Angeles County Musuem of Art and the Guggenheim. To be unveiled for the first time during this exhibition is the MFAH's landmark acquisition Vertical Vintage, a selection of 12 light-based installations by Turrell.
That exhibition was at the forefront of thought as guests sat down to dinner on the Upper Brown Pavilion, a grand perch from which to observe the Jules Olitski exhibition on view in the Law Building mezzanine.
Savoring the evening and the City Kitchen dinner were slightly more than 100 guests including David Booth, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Joe Havel and Lisa Ludwig, Mel Chin, Molly Hubbard, Alison de Lima Greene, Susie and Mel Glasscock, Gwen Goffe and Ed Eubanks, Amy Purvis, Katharine and Stephen Newman, Michael Landrum and Ross Moody.