The 2017 Super Bowl city was getting ready to host. Other than $50 hotel rooms costing $500 a night, the city didn’t seem especially impacted the week before the game. At least we didn’t think it was until….
Ruth and I have always loved this difficult city, the 4th largest in the United States. This goes back to the fact that when we lived in St. Louis Houston was our winter getaway every January. Because we’ve been there so often, there are few attractions we haven’t explored, including its port facilities and, last year, the born-again, art deco Hobby Airport Terminal that I blogged about on May 13, 2016.
So we were in Houston on the Friday before the Super Bowl with nothing new to do. If we had been there on March 5, we’d have gone to MFA to see “Adios Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950”. This wonderfully named exhibit will be there until May 21, 2017, and it would have been especially interesting to us since we had just been to Cuba. With a couple of hours to fill before dinner and an event at Rice University, we decided to visit Houston’s Museum of Fine Art anyway. A world class museum, after all, still has a world class collection even if its temporary exhibition lacks personal pull. Wow, were we wrong. And lucky!
The parking lot across Bissonnet from MFA was almost full, there were NFL signs at its entrance, and many security guards were standing around. We parked there anyway. Inside the museum, we learned that its original 1924 building was hosting a Super Bowl event and was not opened to the public. My mind wildly imagining what a Super Bowl event in an art museum would entail, I learned that the rest of the museum in the Audrey Jones Beck Building that was added in 2000 was opened and free due to the inconvenience!
The Museum of Fine Art was established in 1900 and, since then, has amassed acquisitions from antiquities to today. Its temporary show contained still-lifes, which wasn’t as appealing to Ruth & me as Adios Utopia. We were very wrong. It was sensational.
Houstonites Frank & Michelle Hevrdejs (pronounced have er dee) have amassed a sensational collection of still-life paintings from the early 19th century to the present. Never seen by the public, 60 of their best are on display until April 9. Their selections show that still-lifes aren’t all about flowers and fruit although Ruth picked Raphaelle Peale’s “Orange and Book” above as her favorite and I chose Levi Wells Prentise’s “Peaches in a Tin Bowl” as mine. Thomas Hart Benton’s “Abstract Still Life” shows how open-minded this art form can be.
After “Two Centuries of American Still-Life Painting”, which will reportedly not travel beyond Houston, we re-visited what was on display from MFA’s 63,000+ art works. We both agreed that JMW Turner’s “Sheerness as seen from the Nore” was among the best.