If Stephen Wicks, the curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art, ever decides to change careers, he needs to be a travel agent. I can’t imagine anyone putting together a more interesting, educational and fun three-night trip than the one Wicks just organized for about 40 members of the museum’s Collectors Circle, who visited Houston.
We saw art that ranged from a lovely display of Claude Monet works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston highlighting the famous Impressionist’s lifelong relationship to the Seine River to bizarre and baffling (at least to me) surrealistic pieces at the Menil Collection. We stopped by residences of art collectors in suburban Houston, and we visited Chateau Carnarvon, the most expensive private residence in Houston to see antiquities from the Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras. And, as a bonus, we saw dinosaurs and mummies. And we ate and drank.
And even though all this was packed into the trip, we still had some free time to spend doing our own things. It was fantastic.The hotel Wicks selected for us could not have been more appropriate. Hotel ZaZa is located in downtown Houston’s Museum District and is itself loaded with interesting art, much of it photos and drawings of celebrities.
Like this photo of Faye Dunaway.
Prominently displayed in the hotel lobby was this mugshot of Frank Sinatra made in 1938 after his arrest in New Jersey on charges of adultery and seduction. Seems he had an affair with a married woman, which was illegal at the time.
This interesting lion and lamb painting called “Parable Revisited” is by Maggie Hasbrouck. It’s also in the hotel lobby.
These museum trips always start with a reception at the hotel. Here are, from left, Melanie and Tom Wood, Susan Hawthorne and Susan Farris.
Butterscotch pudding was Alan’s favorite part of the dinner, which we had as a group in the hotel.
See what I mean?
Here’s the view from our hotel. Our room actually had a cute balcony — but it was too cold for us to enjoy it.
Friday morning opened with a short walk to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where our leader, Stephen Wicks, shown here, had arranged for us to get in early to see a special exhibition called “Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River.”
The exhibit, which includes 50 works by Claude Monet on loan from collections all over the world, demonstrates the importance of the Seine River to the famous Impressionist. “I have painted the Seine throughout my life, at every hour, at every season. I have never tired of it: for me the Seine is always new,” Monet said. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take photos of the Monet exhibit. But click here for a link to a preview of it on the museum’s website. It will be on display until Feb. 1.
Elsewhere in the museum, we were allowed to take pictures. This is Picasso’s 1962 painting called “Woman with a Large Hat.”
Here’s Alan in the underground tunnel connecting two of the museum’s buildings. Commissioned in 1999, the James Turrell piece uses light as a material. It’s called “The Light Inside.”
Lunchtime! We took over a private room at Hugo’s, which is owned by the same folks who own Caracol, the fabulous restaurant featured in our previous post.
The festive bar at Hugo’s.
My chicken tortilla soup. Yum.
Alan’s beautiful salad.
Chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. (I try never to miss a chance to order something with mole sauce!)
Alan had croquetas de papa: potato cake with salsa de ajo, served with mushrooms, zucchini and peas. He really liked it.
But, of course, Alan’s favorite course was the big hit: cream cheese vanilla flan with passion fruit sauce and strawberries, topped with Chantilly cream and peanut brittle.
The other dessert, which I had, was dark chocolate cake infused with chipotle pepper and served with coffee-cinnamon ice cream.
Next stop was the Menil Collection.
The Menil Collection, where photography was not allowed, hosts 17,000 pieces of art, mostly modern art and surrealism. I scratched my head a lot. Featured exhibit was by Dario Robleto. You can read about it by clicking here. I was happy that the collection included several paintings by my favorite surrealist, Rene Magritte.
Then, we went to the private residence of the late John de Menil and Dominique de Menil.
Again, no photos allowed. But the house, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is a mid-century modern filled with art.
Then, two quick visits to two private collectors’ homes. Each graciously greeted us with wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Judy Nyquist, center, likes whimsical modern art. And she has a lot of it!
Very cool neon ice cream cone.
Stephen Wicks in front of, well, you can see . . .
There was a giant match in the corner.
And two more on the mantel.
Flying light bulbs in the bathroom!
A gracious hostess, Judy Nyquist told us that she just collects what she likes.
Next stop was the home of Cecily Horton.
This cactus plant was made of border guard uniforms!
I liked these buses.
Cecily explaining her collection. Listening, from left, John Cotham, Maribel Koella and Chuck Jones, Mark and Cathy Hill.
Art on a tire?
I did like this animal (rabbit? squirrel?) in the bathroom.
Hello, cutie! This is Otto, Cecily Horton’s dog.
At this point, we were getting pretty tuckered out! Here are Russ Johnston, left, and Joe Ben Turner.
Lane Hays, left, and Jan Crawford.
If you can believe it, after this jam-packed day, some of us managed to go to a fabulous restaurant. Click here for that story.
Saturday morning was free time, so Alan and I, along with Krishna Adams from the Knoxville Museum of Art, and Kent Farris, walked over to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I wanted to see the Tyrannosaurus rex. Krishna wanted to see the mummies. (Side note: We also went to see the mummies and I almost fainted. Yuck.)
Look out, Alan!
They also had a Triceratops. But I liked the T-rex better.
Alan gets up close to a Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame.
Then it was, of course, time to eat again! We boarded the bus for Canopy.
Canopy on Montrose Boulevard.
The quiche I ordered included mixed farm greens, cheddar cheese and caramelized onion. It was served with grilled broccolini and a quinoa-couscous salad.
Jan and Sylvia Peters at Canopy.
Hei Park and John Cotham.
Myron and Jayne Ely after lunch at Canopy.
Charleene Edwards, left, with Bob and Susan Hawthorne at lunch.
Neal and Joan Allen
Tom and Melanie Wood at Canopy.
Pandy Anderson, right, with Donna and Terry Wertz.
Next up: gallery time!
Owner Devin Borden talking about his gallery.
I chuckled at this piece at the Devin Borden Gallery:
Florence Johnston made friends with Millie the Whippet at the Devin Borden Gallery.
The next stop was the David Shelton Gallery at 3909 Main St., where we met artist Michael Velliquette. His exhibit was called “Serpent Worship” for obvious reasons.
Michael Velliquette with one of his snake pieces. We played a game to see who could find the serpent’s head the fastest.
Here’s another. Can you find the head?
Next was Inman Gallery at 3901 Main St., where Angela Fraleigh’s “Ghosts in the Sunlight” exhibit was on display.
Here’s one of her works.
Then it was on to Chateau Carnarvon, the most expensive private residence ($43 million) in Houston. Owned by Wilbur “Ed” Bosarge and his wife, Marie, it is located in the prestigious Bayou Woods area on a 2.5-acre wooded lot. The house itself contains 27,000 square feet of living space, and it is jam-packed with art — much of it dating to the Greek, Roman and Egyptian empires. Stephen Wicks met Marie and garnered the invitation when the two judged an art exhibit together. In addition to the sculpture and artwork, the Bosarges also own a real Egyptian mummy. But it was on loan to a museum when we visited. No kidding. Click here for a story about the estate that ran in the Wall Street Journal.
We were not allowed to take photos of any of the art.
Approaching Chateau Carnarvon.
Mary Corkran and Kent Farris at Chateau Carnarvon.
Melinda Meador and John Cotham.
Marie Bosarge, center, with Stephen Wicks and Maggie Erickson.
Susan and Bob Hawthorne.
Stephen Wicks thanking our hostess.
The beautiful fountain as we were leaving.
Back on the bus! We headed straight to the bar when we returned to Hotel ZaZa! Most of us ate hamburgers and drank martinis and wine to toast our fabulous trip.