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March 2015 - Houston

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MARCH | PAGE 10 | 2015 THE MFAH'S An Evening Worthy of SCHEHERAZADE The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Glittering International Arts of the Islamic World Gala BLOCKBUSTER EVENING ANNE LEE PHILLIPS PAINTS THE SCENE. PHOTOGRAPHY JENNY ANTILL CLIFTON. CATHERINE D. ANSPON LOOKS TO THE MIDDLE EAST. PHOTOGRAPHY JENNY ANTILL CLIFTON, WILSON PARISH. I t wasn't a routine donor dinner or regular night at the museum to preview the latest blockbuster show. This time, guests were invited to the grand reveal of a blockbuster new campus, unfurling 2017 into 2019. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's biggest benefactors turned out to break bread at a seated dinner catered by City Kitchen that celebrated the raising of $320 million of $350 million towards transforming the campus of the MFAH, while amplifying Houston's place as a world-class arts Mecca. Museum director Gary Tinterow presided over the evening, greeting illustrious patrons named Sarofim, Kinder, Wyatt and Long, who swarmed around the architectural model of the new campus. Ghost chairs and glass tables topped with white roses and candles floated in Cullinan Hall — minimalist design that highlighted the importance of the booklet atop each place setting: an architectural rendering of the dramatic new campus, which adds a third building, a new Glassell School of Art and a conservation center. Read more about the new MFAH at A thousand and one nights could pass, and few would equal the splendors of this season's Arts of the Islamic World Gala. The biennial ball at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, raised funds for the Islamic Art department, established by the MFAH seven years ago and ardently supported by members of the community including this soirée's 10-member host committee: Rania Daniel, Zeina Fares, Vahid Kooros, Sima Ladjevardian, Sultana Mangalji, Franci Neely, Cenk Ozdogan, Sabiha Rehmatulla, Aliyya Stude, and Monsour Taghdisi — a powerful delegation, indeed. Curators and collectors came from the far reaches of the globe, including the evening's illustrious guest, H.E. Sheikha Hussah al-Sabah, who is lending greatest hits from the collection she and her husband have amassed in Kuwait for a long-term rotating series of exhibitions at the MFAH. One installment of 250 such treasures was unfurled that evening, as were new Islamic galleries, freshly curated by recent arrival, scholar and department head Aimée Froom (the gala served as her coming-out party). Director Gary Tinterow was in his element, acting as an ambassador, for he and the al-Sabah family's friendship extends back to his days at the Met. Guests arrived having raised approximately $500,000, and when they departed, the bottom line had grown by $200,000, making possible the acquisition of all five marvelous art and objects presented for consideration, including three works funded by big-hearted individual donors: a late-17th-century Indian sandstone panel purchased due to the generosity of Rania and Jamal Daniel; an Ottoman ceramic plate depicting a galleon at sea, entering the collection thanks to Zeina and Nijad Fares; and a fascinating, nearly life-size Persian portrait of a dancing girl, dated 1778, sponsored by Franci Neely and Sabiha and Omar Rehmatulla. Potentates and grandees: assistant secretary general/museum director Abdulkareem S. Al-Ghadban and al- Sabah Collection curator Sue Kaoukji, both in from Kuwait; Islamic scholar/ guest curator Giovanni Curatola based in Italy; MFAH development director Amy Purvis, charged with fund-raising for the new campus and off to a very good start, wearing a glittering vintage gown that belonged to Tinterow's late mom, a gift from the director; Tinterow's partner, antiquarian Christopher Gardner; Jaleh and Bruce Sallee; Jennifer and Matt Esfahani; Lynn and Pete Coneway; Greg Fourticq Jr.; Alma Kombargi; Mey and Wissam Al Monthiry; FotoFest's Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin and director Steven Evans; and Nancy and Rich Kinder, he chairman of the board, and the couple big benefactors after whom the third building will be named. Besides the Kinders' magnificence, they were quite excellent on the dance floor; DJ Hector kept that in motion, taking to his late-night turntable following the City Kitchen-devised Middle Eastern-inspired feast. Aliyya Stude Isabel Lummis Rania Daniel Sima Ladjevardian Michael Gamson Gary Tinterow Elise Joseph Russell Joseph Kathy Goossen Christopher Sarofim Chris McVoy Nancy Kinder Rich Kinder Harry Reasoner Wally Wilson Jeanie Kilroy Wilson Jim Flores Cherie Flores Terry Smith Tommy Smith Macey Reasoner Steven Holl Michelle Hevrdejs Frank Hevrdejs Cornelia Long Pershant Mehta Nidhika Mehta Meredith Long Barbara Gamson Ajay Khurana Sippi Khurana Elyse Lanier Jennifer Esfahani Matt Esfahani Mary Cullen Franci Neely Kathy Goossen Marty Goossen Gary Tinterow Natasha Sadeghian de la Garza Mario de la Garza H.E. Sheikha Hussah al-Sabah Maria Bush Neil Bush Lynn Wyatt Cathy Kooros Vahid Kooros Barbara Gamson Monsour Taghdisi Nancy Kinder Rich Kinder Sultana Mangalji Moez Mangalji Sima Ladjevardian Henry Richardson Aimée Froom Catherine Ozdogan Cenk Ozdogan Omar Rehmatulla Sabiha Rehmatulla Manuel Gutierrez and Fanny Ara

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