Shelby's Social Diary
It was a star-studded crowd, in so many ways, that turned out for the Houston Museum of African American Culture's "Lift Off" gala at the Ensemble Theater. Most brilliant among the galaxy of notables was honorary chair Nichelle Nichols, perhaps better known as Lt. Uhura of Star Trek.
In contrast to last fall's "Under Construction"-themed gala, this year's event signified the strides that the museum at 4807 Caroline has made in merely a year's time. The museum space, set to officially open in 2012, is already available for special events, while in the past 12 months, the museum entity has sponsored numerous programs around the city.
Welcoming the 300 guests was HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr., who shared opening remarks with museum board chair Melanie Lawson, KTRK Channel 13 news anchor, and gala chairs Sibyl and Alfred Jackson. It was Nichols, however, who stirred museum patrons with her inspiring talk on the encouragement that she received from her father in her quest to become an actress and in a parallel how important it is for the museum to continue on its challenging yet exciting path.
In a humorous close to the program, Brad Bucher and Ramon Manning took the stage to playfully pull Guess off a la a James Brown moment as he made his closing remarks. Special thanks went to event planner Melissa Krauser, Langstead Caterers and SPR Design for its out-of-this-world florals.
Contributing to the starry atmosphere of the evening were collectors Kimberly and Elliot Perry of Memphis, Michael Graves of Graves Advisory Group and Black Enterprise Magazine, investment banker Jeffery Scott of New York, AfriDev Capital Partners' Sam Smoots of Washington D.C., gallerist Andre Guichard of Chicago, Leslie Bucher, Bill and Pam Boyar, Gloria and Dr. Parnell Avery, State Rep. Garnett Coleman, Tracye McDaniel and artists Ted Ellis and Bert Long Jr.
The partying continued after the gala as a number of supporters moved on to the museum for an after-party where the juried winners of the HMAAC auction/Bombay Sapphire Russell Simmons Artisan Series were announced. Rabéa Ballin and Jade Cooper were named winners. Their work will be featured at Art Basel Miami Beach.
In that group were Ellena Huckaby, Matt Probus, Annette Bracey, Sharon Michael Owens, Michelle Barnes and HMAAC curator and jurist Danielle Burns and museum program director Solkem N'gnagbet.