Joseph Havel is honored as Texas Artist of the Year at buttoned-up Art LeagueGala
Artist Joseph Havel's fascination with the delicate construction of the crisp button-down shirt inspired an entire evening of philanthropy at the Art League Houston's annual gala at the Omni Houston Hotel. Entitled "White Shirts & Chiffon," the event recognized Havel as the Texas Artist of the Year.
Lauded for his adept melding of style and subject, Havel has been featured at the Whitney Biennial and in solo shows at the Palais de Tokyo, Bard Center for Contemporary Arts and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where his deconstructed men's dress shirts hung in a poetic installation in the museum's Upper Brown Pavilion. Havel is also director of the Glassell School of Art and its crown jewel, the Core Program.
Clint Willour, curator at the Galveston Arts Center, presented the award to Havel, describing the artist as a "master of balance," as evidenced in multiple GAC exhibitions.
"I think the most amazing thing about Joe is his ability to adapt to change, to think about art in new ways," said Willour, referencing the artist's monumental concrete curtain installation at the entrance of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Beck Building.
"He's also probably the only artist whose work I have smuggled through American and French customs to take to his dealer in Paris," Willour added with a grin. "The work he's done at the Glassell for the past 19 years, growing the Core Program into a force of nature in the art world, is alone worth this honor."
Local art world whizzes Leslie and Brad Bucher were honored as Texas Patrons of the Year. Kimberly Davenport, director of Rice University Art Gallery, talked about the Rice grad couple's immersion into the Houston art scene. It started with a $75 painting purchased at a suburban mall. From that point, the Buchers saved to buy one significant work of art each year, eventually encountering Havel and commissioning a work that incorporated the artist and couples' mutually favorite Robert Frost poem.
Indeed, the Buchers have taken the road less travelled, with Leslie devoting 15 years to docenting at Bayou Bend and Brad becoming the president of the Latin Mecinas patrons group at the MFAH. Brad Bucher has also served on the board of the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston and is currently an MFAH trustee and chairman of the Glassell.
After toasting the art world trio, guests galavanted on the dance floor to the sounds of Allen Oldies Band, taking breaks to place bids on a local-artist-heavy silent art auction — think Emily Sloan, Blakely Bering, Nicola Parente, Al Souza and, of course, Havel.
The white-shirted art leaguers also absconded with some prize entries in an ad-hoc Healing Art Program exhibition, supporting the initiative that provides creative expression for those living with chronic illness or physical disabilities.