Magical Museum Ball

Enchanted Grand Gala Ball soars to magical heights with shimmering trees; raises $1.6 million

Grand Gala Museum Ball soars to magical heights; raises $1.6 million

3 Christopher Gardner, from left, Frances Marzio and Gary Tinterow at the MFAH Grand Gala Ball October 2014
Christopher Gardner, from left, Frances Marzio and Gary Tinterow. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1 Jay Jones, from left, Amy Purvis and Terry Wayne Jones at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Jay Jones, from left, Amy Purvis and Terry Wayne Jones. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
34 Laurie Morian, left, and Lynn Wyatt at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Laurie Morian, left, and Lynn Wyatt. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
25 Nancy and Rich Kinder at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Nancy and Rich Kinder. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
9 Bobby and Phoebe Tudor at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Bobby and Phoebe Tudor. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
32 Steve and Betty Newton, from left, and Ann and Karl Stern at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Karl Stern, from left,  Betty Newton, Ann Stern and Stephen Newton. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
20 Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
7 Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
22 Mike and Karen Mayell, from left, with Ceron at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Mike and Karen Mayell, left, with Cerón. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
18 Bob and Janice McNair, from left, Holly A.N. Smith and Austin Alvis at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Bob and Janice McNair, left, with Holly A.N. Smith and Austin Alvis. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
35 Rania Daniel, from left, Daria Daneil and Sima Ladjevardian at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Rania Daniel, from left, Daria Daniel and Sima Ladjevardian. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
45 The venue at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
The enchanting Jennifer Steinkamp flower trees created a magnificent backdrop for the black-tie gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
29 Danny and Isabel David at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Danny and Isabel David. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
36 Eric and Clair Anyah, from left, and Betsy and Rick Weber at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Eric and Claire Anyah, from left, and Betsy and Rick Weber. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
12 Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
27 Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014.
Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
6 Jeff Bradley, from left, Sue Fondren Whitfield, Joanne King Herring and Jim Nelson at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Jeff Bradley, from left, Sue Fondren Whitfield, Joanne King Herring and Jim Nelson. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
13 Michael and Iliana Trevino at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Michael and Ileana Trevino. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
41 Adriana Banks and Seth Williams at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Adriana Banks and Seth Williams. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
38 Phillip and Lori Sarofim at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
Phillip and Lori Sarofim. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, MFAH Grand Gala Ball, orchids, Oct. 2014
Orchid centerpieces by Scott McCool's In Bloom echoed the seasonal allure of the trees. Photo by Shafik Rifaat
3 Christopher Gardner, from left, Frances Marzio and Gary Tinterow at the MFAH Grand Gala Ball October 2014
1 Jay Jones, from left, Amy Purvis and Terry Wayne Jones at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
34 Laurie Morian, left, and Lynn Wyatt at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
25 Nancy and Rich Kinder at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
9 Bobby and Phoebe Tudor at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
32 Steve and Betty Newton, from left, and Ann and Karl Stern at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
20 Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
7 Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
22 Mike and Karen Mayell, from left, with Ceron at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
18 Bob and Janice McNair, from left, Holly A.N. Smith and Austin Alvis at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
35 Rania Daniel, from left, Daria Daneil and Sima Ladjevardian at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
45 The venue at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
29 Danny and Isabel David at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
36 Eric and Clair Anyah, from left, and Betsy and Rick Weber at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
12 Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
27 Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014.
6 Jeff Bradley, from left, Sue Fondren Whitfield, Joanne King Herring and Jim Nelson at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
13 Michael and Iliana Trevino at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
41 Adriana Banks and Seth Williams at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
38 Phillip and Lori Sarofim at the MFAH Grand Gala October 2014
News, Shelby, MFAH Grand Gala Ball, orchids, Oct. 2014

To completely mesmerize more than 300 of the city's most sophisticated philanthropists is no easy task. But the kinetic energy and graceful beauty of Jennifer Steinkamp's flowering trees light installations in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston enchanted absolutely everyone attending Saturday night's Grand Gala Ball.

Six of the life-sized, 3D shimmering trees lined the perimeter of the museum's Cullinan Hall, where every 11 minutes the lifelike images ebbed and flowed through the four seasons. Employing these works of art as the focal point of the black-tie gala was the genius of ball chair Frances Marzio, who convinced the artist to loan the museum five of her Mike Kelley Projections to join the Mike Kelly 14 that is in the MFAH's permanent collection. (Would that we had all six!)

The evening's success of $1.6 million in proceeds was "made possible by the extraordinary efforts of our gallant chair Frances Marzio." 

"How many times in Houston have we been able to experience all four seasons in a single night?" posed Marzio. (See the video below.)

Indeed, from museum patrons Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs to  Sara and Bill Morgan and Janice and Bob McNair, the response to the installations was universal. Magnificent, hypnotizing, fantastic — the praise ran throughout the night as guests lifted their smart phones over and over again to capture the fascinating dance of the trees.

"I've never seen anything like it," cooed Joanne King Herring. "It's the most magical thing I've ever seen."

As the museum purposely scales back attendance at the gala, proceeds continue to rise for the evening that was as much intimate celebration as fundraising gala. And although Marzio was tapped as chair of the glamorous evening, the soirée was also a tribute to her personally.

"This is always a special event for the patrons of the museum because it is the biggest social event of the year and our biggest fundraising event of the year," noted museum director Gary Tinterow. The evening's success of $1.6 million in proceeds, he said, "was made possible by the extraordinary efforts of our gallant chair Frances Marzio."

He praised Marzio for 32 years of service to the museum not only as a curator but also as the wife of late MFAH director Peter Marzio. "They were equal partners in the effort that brought this museum to greatness."

Museum board chairman Rich Kinder then led a toast to Marzio that included a heartfelt standing ovation from the gathering of 322.

In Bloom created the orchid-infused centerpieces that reflected the four seasons while City Kitchen provided the equally magnificent dinner that also reflected the seasons — jumbo lump crabmeat appetizer, veal osso-bucco main course and a playful sorbet trio dessert complete with autumn leaf ginger snaps.

The David Caceres Orchestra had the dance floor packed from the first strains and into the night as guests including Jeanie Kilroy Wilson and Wally Wilson, Sharyn and Jim Weaver, Diane Lokey Farb and Mark Sullivan and Anne and Karl Stern swirled across the museum floor.

The stellar guest list included Nancy Kinder, Elise and Russell Joseph, Linda and Dr. Walter McReynolds, Lynn Wyatt, Bobbie and John Nau, Christopher Gardner, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Anne and Charles Duncan, Amy Purvis, Sue Trammell Whitfield, Delise Ward and Craig Lidji and Lori and Phillip Sarofim.