Francophiles & Smart Art Set

Vive L'Art! David McGee is recipient of Texan-French Alliance for the Arts award

Vive L'Art! David McGee is recipient of Texan-French Alliance for the Arts award

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David McGee Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Martha Finger , Lynn Wyatt Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Laure Parise , Peter Brown , Joelle Petit Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Jonathan Leach Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Daniel Farioli Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Wayne Picard , Marlene Picard , Wayne Gilbert Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Alton LaDay , Vanessa Abahashemi Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Mickey Henry , Brad Bracewell , Kevin Henry Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Marilyn Smith , Michael Smith , Francoise Henry , Andre Maule Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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Lynn Wyatt , Judy Nyquist , David McGee Photo by Roswitha Vogler
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News_TFAA Art Award_Auction_Jonathan Leach
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The Decorative Center Houston hummed with the overlapping ranks of Francophiles and smart art set at the second biennial reception for the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) Award and Auction. Among a strong selection of local and French artists, painter David McGee was selected as the recipient of this year's TFAA Artist Award for Excellence.

The award includes a custom-tailored, art-focused 10-day residency in France. Remarked McGee upon receiving the award,

I've had a long relationship with French culture. It first happened when I was 14 years old: I was reading and I saw a great painting, 'The Raft of Medusa' by Géricault, and I was enamored with the picture. I went to the Louvre when I was a younger cat, and I couldn't believe I was in the same room as that picture. I think that French paintings have to do with the cross-pollination of drama and I see the kind of aura and cinematic nature of those paintings in my own work." 

McGee's watercolor work on auction, "Sartre & Camus," featured the artist's signature method of juxtaposing portraits of hip hop celebrities above the names of French literati (in this case, members of Public Enemy have been labeled as existentialist philosophers).

Presenting the accolades were honorary chair Lynn Wyatt and honorary selection chair Judy Nyquist. "McGee's work was very compelling for its inherent references to France," Nyquist, who helped arrange the selection committee, told CultureMap. "His whole aesthetic and the way he imagines his themes — I think that resonated with the group."

Garnering the second-place award was Daniel Farioli, who was in town from his studio in Nice (which is incidentally a Houston sister city). Jonathan Leach, whose hard-edge paintings on acrylic prisms can be found at Darke Gallery, was recognized as the third place award winner.

The award's selection committee was studded by star curators, critics and art execs, among them Claudia Schmuckli of Blaffer Art Museum, project manager of TFAA Paris, Dominique Chastres, Alison Greene, curator of modern and contemporary art at the MFAH, Toby Kamps, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection, Wendy Watriss, artistic director of FotoFest, Bill Arning, director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Paris-based curator and art advisor Marc Pottier.

Martha Finger served as event chair, with Laure Parise and Joelle Petit taking the part of co-chairs. Also spotted at the soirée were Byron and Karen Hood, guests of French Consul General Pierre Grandjouan and his wife, Katie. Following the award announcement, gallerist Wade Wilson emceed a live auction that included works by such local art stars as Joseph Cohen, Allison Hunter and Lisa Qualls, with a portion of proceeds benefiting participating artists and the Texas Children's Cancer Center's Arts in Medicine Program, an initiative that provides artistic opportunities to patients and their families.