The joint was jumpin'
Houston art world biggies turn out to support Project Row Houses fundraiser
The Project Row Houses annual fundraiser at the Eldorado Ballroom was a lively affair as singer Diunna Greenleaf raised the roof with her special brand of blues music. Greenleaf, a Houston native whose new CD, Trying to Hold On, has topped blues charts, closed the evening with an extended concert, where she roamed the dance floor while belting out tunes.
The gala, which attracted more than 200 guests, raised nearly $100,000 for the non-profit arts and cultural organization in Houston's Third Ward.
The evening started with cocktails and viewing of art work in a silent auction, with bidding continuing into the night. Artist and PRH staff member Robert Hodge rounded up donations from a stellar list of artists, many of whom have a close connection to the organization. They included Jabari Anderson, Nathaniel Donnett, Sharon Kopriva, Lovie Olivia, Robert Pruitt, Lisa Qualls and Charles Washington.
Then guests went upstairs for a dinner catered by Treebeard's that included shrimp etouffee, grilled chicken and vegetables and the restaurant's signature butter cake.
PRH founder Rick Lowe presented the first annual Earnestine Courtney Community Service Award to Theola Petteway and Stuart Kensinger. Courtney, who lived in the neighbhorhood for more than 50 years, was the guiding spirit of PRH until her death in 2003 at age 94.
Petteway is executive director of the OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority, past president of the Row House Community Development Corporation board of directors and an active community volunteer. Kensinger was instrumental in negotiating the deal in which Project Row Houses acquired the Eldorado Ballroom and has focused on financial issues and strategic planning while on the PRH board.
"I hope this symbolizes my citizenry in the Third Ward, Texas, that I take very seriously," he said to enthusiastic applause.
Many of the city's top museum directors turned out to support the unique organization, which owns 40 properties, including 12 artist exhibition and residency spaces, seven houses for young mothers, office spaces, a community gallery, a park, low-income residential and commercial spaces. On hand were Contemporary Arts Museum Houston director Bill Arning, UH Mitchell Center for the Arts director Karen Farber, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow, Menil director Josef Helfenstein and Dorothy Sauter Helfenstein, and CAMH curator Valerie Cassel Oliver .
Also seen in the crowd were Houston council member Larry Green, Hermann Park Conservancy director Doreen Stoller and Dan Piette, PRH board presidentKathryn McNiel, PRH board vice-president Adrian Patterson, Allen and Patty Watson, Ann and Jim Harithas, and Bryon Morris and Deborah McAbee.