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Black Tie International:
2011 Blanton Museum Gala Honors Robert Wilson
& Raises $500K


Photos by:  Ben Sklar Photography

Dr. Ernest Butler and University of Texas President William Powers, Austin

Dr. Ernest Butler and University of Texas President William Powers, Austin, Texas

Lynn Meredith and Tommie Meredith, Houston, Texas
Lynn and Tommie Meredith, Houston, Texas
Robert Wilson with Gala Co-chairs Jeanne Klein, Kelli Blanton & Janet Allen

Robert Wilson with Gala Co-chairs Jeanne Klein, Kelli Blanton & Janet Allen

(AUSTIN, TX: February 2, 2011) On Saturday, January 29, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin hosted, “Gala Lumière,” an evening celebrating the vital role that The Blanton plays in the cultural landscape of Austin, and honoring avant-garde master and former University of Texas at Austin student, Robert Wilson. The event raised $500,000 to provide essential funding in support of The Blanton’s wide range of programs for students, children, and adults. Speaking on behalf of her fellow gala co-chairs, Janet Allen and Jeanne Klein, Kelli Blanton remarked, “It was truly an honor to play a part in such an extraordinary evening. Seeing so many generous supporters come together to celebrate the importance of The Blanton to the community was as special as the recognition of the life and work of the masterful Bob Wilson.”
The black-tie event was attended by over 300 guests from Texas and across the country, including:  Liz Lambert and Amy Cook, Stephen and Johnna Jones, Clayton and Andrew Maebius, Dorothy and Sam Winters, Joanne and Jack Crosby, Melissa Jones, Alice Carrington Foultz and Eric Foultz and Lynn and Tom Meredith (Austin); Bill Arning and Mark McCray, Kathryn and James Ketelsen, Judy and Charles Tate, and the Blanton and Wareing families (Houston); Kay and Lyndon Olson (Waco); Watermill Foundation director Jorn Weisbrodt, and Warren Weitman of Sotheby’s (New York) and esteemed former and current University of Texas presidents Larry Faulkner and William Powers and UT Board of Regents member Gene Powell and his wife, Blanton Museum Council member, Dana Powell.

The evening began with a VIP cocktail reception in The Blanton’s Klein Gallery, where guests mingled with Mr. Wilson and were treated to a special viewing of five of the artist’s acclaimed video portraits placed throughout the museum. (The videos will remain on view in an exclusive two-week presentation at The Blanton, February 1- 16.) Guests were then seated in the museum’s first floor galleries - transformed by Strong Productions and David Kurio Designs - for dinner catered by the Four Seasons, and a program emceed by Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith. Following a video tribute to the honoree produced by Shiny Object, and a dynamic piano performance by Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds, Mr. Wilson took the podium and remarked that the state of Texas could be found in all of his work. UT President Powers presented Wilson with a gift on behalf of the University, and gala co-chairs Janet Allen, Kelli Blanton, and Jeanne Klein presented him with a pair of official UT cowboy boots. After dinner, guests enjoyed a musical and visual performance by Black Book Angel and music from DJ El john Selector.



Wilson's multi-faceted artistic explorations include everything from fine art installations and furniture design, to theatrical direction and scenic design. His drawings, designs, and installations have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. Major artistic collaborations include the seminal Einstein on the Beach with Philip Glass, and The Black Rider and Alice with Tom Waits. Among his numerous awards and honors, Wilson has received an Obie award for direction, the Golden Lion for sculpture from the Venice Biennale, the third-ever Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for Lifetime Achievement, two Guggenheim Fellowship awards, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship award, and a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Of Wilson's artistic career, writer Susan Sontag remarked, “it has the signature of a major artistic creation. I can't think of any body of work as large or as influential.”
The Blanton’s collection comprises over 17,000 works of art in a variety of mediums, with particular depth in Western European art from the fourteenth through twentieth centuries and modern and contemporary art of the Americas.The museum enriches and transforms the lives of learners of all ages by providing inspiring and relevant experiences with original works of art. Through the collecting of art, preserving it in optimal conditions, and creatively displaying and interpreting these objects, The Blanton serves as an intellectual and social portal connecting the university and the rest of the world through visual art and culture.

Located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, the museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 10-5, Saturday from 11-5, and Sunday from 1-5. Thursday is free admission day and the museum is open until 9 PM on the Third Thursday of each month. Admission is free to members, all current UT ID-holders, and children under 12, and is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for college students with ID, and $5 for youth
(13-25). For information call (512) 471-7324 or visit  

Joyce Brooks

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