Archive | November, 2009

AN EVENING FUELED BY ARTSY ABSINTHE

30 Nov

By JOHN DeMERS 

Artists of the world, rejoice. After nearly a century of being banned – blamed for madness, violence and other occupational hazards – the spirit of choice for 19th-century creative types is available again to those of the 21st century. And this coming Saturday at AvantGarden, a group of international experts will strive to explain how and why. 

There will be no shortage of absinthe to drink. 

“I really like small-batch bourbons,” offers Houston-based photographer Damian Hevia, “and I’ve tasted my way through the world of single-malt Scotches. And hey, I’m Cuban, so I certainly know rum. But once you’ve tasted absinthe, those things just don’t have as much punch.” 

You’ll no doubt spot Damian at this week’s absinthe tasting, a kind of “spirited” seminar at the old-house-garden-music-venue-watering hole on lower Westheimer. And assuming your eyes can still focus after a few of the drinks, which turn a cloudy greenish hue when the proper splash of water is added, you’ll certainly see his photographs. Absinthe, you see, must be considered Damian’s favorite supermodel. Several of his artistic, highly stylized images of the spirit and its serving paraphernalia will be offered for sale, right along with colorful absinthe-themed posters from Europe in the 19th century. For that was surely the drink’s heyday. 

According to Damian, a full house is expected at this first-of-its-kind event for Houston, beginning with an absinthe presentation that will quench curiosities. The meaning of terms like artemisia absinthium, Dr. Ordinaire, louche, verte, blanche, dose, thujone, and L’Heure Verte will be revealed by renowned absinthe historian and master distiller Ted Breaux of Lucid Absinthe (Viridian Spirits) along with Legendré Herbsaint historian and collector Jay Hendrickson. 

After the talking, the celebrating will begin, says Damian, with what he terms “general frivolity” and absinthe tastings traditionale, including a venerable New Orleans spirit reissuing its original 1934 recipe. Special absinthe cocktails will mix it up a bit for the palette. Light hors d’oeuvres, live jazz by Cory Wilson Jazz Coretet and modern classical music by Two Star Symphony, absinthe art for sale, green fairies (long the drink’s primary emblem or metaphor) , and Belle Epoch-inspired attire will fill out the evening.  

Dr. Pierre Ordinaire is credited with the creation of absinthe in 1797, initially a sort of patent medicine/cure-all. A guy named Pernod (how appropriate!) opened the first distillery in Switzerland but, by 1805, had moved the operation to Pontarlier in France. One of the earliest markets for absinthe, and forever one of the most colorful, proved to be soldiers of the French Foreign Legion. To them, the stuff was disease prevention in a canteen; and during their campaigns through North Africa in the 1840s, there were so many diseases to prevent. 

With these stout-hearted souls as its marketing force (and their rough “men-in-uniform” image as an early part of poster advertising), absinthe took Paris by storm – as would virtually every other invading army after that. In short order, the period between 5 and 7 p.m. became known – no, not as happy hour but as l’heure verte (the Green Hour) in honor of the favored beverage. The fact that it was actually two hours mattered no more to revelers then than it does to happy-hour regulars today. Drinkers couldn’t get enough of this mix of grande wormwood, green anise, fennel and other European herbs. And if that seems a weird way to make a drink, just think of the concept of “root beer,” OK? 

Artists loved absinthe in the 19th century. And before long, anything excessive that an artist was wont to do got blamed on the absinthe he’d no doubt been drinking. Even in the popular imagination, long before the long arm of the law got involved, people who went nuts were accused of having been driven to it by absinthe. And families with loved ones in asylums found it easier to blame absinthe than a host of other possible reasons, starting with their own gene pool. That, it seemed, only drove the artists farther, with absinthe turning up regularly in the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, van Gogh and Picasso, as well as in the poems and lives of dissipated poets like Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine. 

Even in France, the sales of absinthe finally did what was once thought impossible, outstripping the hold long enjoyed by French wines. The wine industry was so hobbled by absinthe that, when temperance movements of the early 20th century singled it out as the enemy, the wine industry was quick to chime in with support. The Swiss were the first to ban absinthe in 1910, with the United States following suit in 1912 (the now-infamous USDA Food Inspection 147) and France three years after that. And that was the legal situation until 2007. 

New Orleans native Ted Breaux, one of the speakers at this week’s AvantGarden event, helped lead the charge to abolish the ban in recent years, along with a Swiss distillery named Kubler – no, not the place with all those elves. Breaux teamed up with his business partner and New York attorney Jared Gurfein to provide evidence of the spirit’s purity and safety when produced with strict adherence to historical methods, flying in the face on 100 years of misinformation and disinformation. The absinthe ban was finally lifted in 2007. 

If you want more information about the event, provocatively titled “Absinthe Revealed: A Celebration of Tastings and Truth,” you should RSVP at www.avantgardenhouston.com/absinthe.html.  AvantGarden is located at 411 Westheimer and the phone is 832-519-1429. With tickets sold at the door, the entire events costs $20 per person, the celebration-only available for $15.

Photo by Becky Cash: Damian Hevia and John DeMers enjoy their own l’heure verte.

Advertisements

A PRINCELY CHAT WITH PETER FRANC

30 Nov

 

By NANCY WOZNY 

Houston Ballet demi soloist Peter Franc finally gets his night as the Prince in The Nutcracker.  Franc been been steadily moving forward and will also be dancing up a storm in the upcoming Jubilee of Dance: 40th Anniversary Celebration. Franc fills us on what’s on his dancing plate. 

Houston ArtsWeek: Tell us about the prince. Why is this such a rite of passage role? 

Peter Franc: He’s such a prince! It’s fun and challenging because there are so many different levels to the part. It’s a dynamic role that requires a great deal of control. I also get to add to the character to make it my own. 

HA: What about your partners? 

PF: Well I have three girls to take care of as the Prince: Clara, Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum Fairy. With Clara, I am mostly an escort, but I dance quite a bit with Snow and Sugar Plum. 

HA: Elise Judson, your Sugar Plum, is also making her debut in the role. 

PF: We have great chemistry because we both have been trained in the Academy, are eager to do well, and have strong work ethics. Plus, we are the perfect size for each other. She’s just a lovely dancer too. 

HA: You are also in intense rehearsals for the annual “Jubilee of Dance.” What will we see you dancing that evening? 

PF: I will be doing the “Blue Couple” in the finale of Stanton’s Tu Tu. It’s all big jumps and partnering. I have a solo in Stanton’s world premiere, 40. I start off the men’s section. I love the music, it’s Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol Op. 34.

 

HA: Last season you turned heads in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun. What did that role mean to your career? 

PF: I was so privileged to dance Faun. It’s such an iconic ballet, so smart, and there are so many details that make the piece work. Also, I got to dance with Mimi (Mireille Hassenboehler). It has to be my favorite moment in my career so far. 

HA: You also got a chance to dance Louis XVI in Marie. 

PF: Yes, with Sara Webb too. It was a huge opportunity for me. Last year was a good year for me. 

HA: What are you looking forward to dancing in 2010? 

PF: La Bayadere, Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Christopher Bruce’s Hush and Balanchine’s Apollo. I love all those pieces. 

HA: Any last thoughts on your adventures in prince land? 

PF: Well my mom and other family members are coming. It’s my biggest role yet and I hope to do it well. We have a very high standard here at Houston Ballet. I can’t wait. 

Peter Franc dances the Prince in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker on Tues. December 8 (student matinee) and Saturday, December 12 at 2pm, and in the “Jubilee of Dance: 40th Anniversary Celebration” on December 4, at 7:30pm, at Wortham Center. Call 713.227.2787 or visit www.houstonballet.org. 

Photo by Amitava Sarkar: Peter Franc in Stanton Welch’s Tu Tu.

 

A DEADLINE EVERY MINUTE

30 Nov

By JOHN DeMERS

Despite the dastardly potential for wordplay (in a world of dirty minds, starting with my own), my favorite compliment I ever get on my journalism is “Gee, you’re really fast.” And yes, I do hear that all the time, especially when I’m the first member of the local news media to weigh in – usefully, I hope – on a performance we’ve all seen together a few hours before. We can thank the disease I caught from Dr. Nick Plasterer for that, but more on him in a moment. 

Even removed from “breaking news” (what beloved genius came up with “When news breaks, we fix it”?), there is value in being fast. There’s value when, in my vocabulary, there’s a reason for being fast. And there’s value, at least to me, when it’s just because I can. The main reason would be impact – to spread the word about an opera, ballet, play, reading or exhibition that may not run all that long, perhaps only another performance or two, and that I don’t want you to miss. Still, sometimes I run my review the morning after just because I can. And that’s where Dr. Nick comes in. 

Nick Plasterer ran the editing and layout classes in my journalism school (LSU, if you must know – yeah, Geaux Tigers, though we were still literate enough to spell it “Go” in those days). And Plasterer graded all our assignments with a system that would baffle Einstein. His markings resembled a game of tic-tac-toe, with number grades for quality and separate number grades for speed. Somehow, though I don’t remember how and never understood it anyway, those numbers intersected to produce your grade on the assignment. The message was clear: You can’t just turn in good stuff. You have to turn in good stuff now! 

In later years, every time I addressed this great journalistic truth with my own students, I channeled Nick Plasterer. I couldn’t do the intersecting grading thing, so I opted for a “colorful expression” thing instead. “I’d rather,” I’d tell each set of eager, idealistic young faces, “you turn in a serviceable, accurate, grammatical story on time than a work of sheer genius after the paper’s gone to press.” I tell my writers for Houston ArtsWeek the same thing today. Starting, of course, with myself. 

Somewhere along the road, after working for two daily newspapers, I joined the wire service United Press International, immortalized as “UPI” until it proved less than immortal in federal bankruptcy court. And there the motto was even wilder: UPI had “a deadline every minute.” This was more than sales-force hyperbole. Every minute of every day, some newspaper on earth was going to press, some TV or radio newscast was going on the air live. If anyone was prepared to live the UPI life, it was this student of Dr. Nick Plasterer. 

In the late ‘70s, I served as arts/entertainment/book editor of the Jackson Daily News, the afternoon daily in Mississippi’s capital. And that meant that six out of seven days each week, I wrote a column with my face on it. Amazing experience, that. One, just writing that much was a mixture of pleasure and pain. And two, as we all know, even fame in tiny doses is utterly addictive. (Once, after a particularly mean-spirited review of heartthrob Sean Cassidy titled “Backstage at the Teeny-Bopper Sex Show,” some surely young reader wrote me saying “I can tell by your picture that you know nothing about music.”) In Jackson, I usually went to performances and then straight back to the office to write my review. It sure beat writing it at 6 a.m. 

Once or twice, though – and only once or twice – the need for speed came around to, um, bite me. One Friday afternoon I added a final item to my Monday arts column (our deadlines worked that way, with limited weekend staff, etc.) based on a press packet about some rock band’s upcoming show in Jackson. I’d heard of the band and they were coming to Our Town USA, so it made perfect sense to crib a few paragraphs and, you know, just get the ball rolling. This was fine until Monday, when the local performing arts center phoned to say they’d been bombarded with phone calls about a concert they had no record of. 

And that, I learned, is because the press packet had been sent to me in Jackson MS by accident, instead of to my counterpart in Jackson MI, where the show actually was. In Michigan. I’ll never make a rash editorial decision on a Friday afternoon again. I hope. 

Finally, sometimes being fast is an amazing, delicious thing. On the night Mikhail Baryshnikov danced in Jackson with a lavish champagne reception for VIPs (like me) at the Governor’s Mansion afterward, I actually wrote my review longhand in a drunken haze at my kitchen table before going to bed. Then I woke up at 6 and went to the office to type it into the system. The Daily News had a large chunk of that day’s Page One reserved for my review, hardly where my stuff usually ended up. But I did, and then they did, and then there it was. 

I don’t remember what headline the copy desk put on my review, which ran beneath a terrific, action-blurred black-and-white photo of Baryshnikov dancing a tarantella complete with tambourine. But I’ll never forget the headline I myself imagined for it. In fact, I think of it often 30 years later, just for giggles: “John DeMers Says Baryshnikov a Good Dancer.”

Photo: The LSU School of Journalism, later renamed for Baton Rouge news media moguls, the Manship family.

 

THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO – A Review

23 Nov

Main Street Theater (Through Dec. 12) 

By HOLLY BERETTO 

One of the joys of seeing a show at Main Street Theater is that you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, thanks to the intimacy of the space. Main Street uses this to its fullest advantage with its latest production, a revival of Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo, a show that’s about identity and prejudice, as much as it is about family and frivolity.           

It’s Atlanta. It’s December 1939. There’s a war brewing in Europe. And Gone with the Wind has jut premiered. But for the Levys, the most important thing going on is who will take Lala Levy to the big dance that happens on the last night of Ballyhoo, the event of the Jewish social season. Her mother, Boo, thinks that this might be Lala’s last chance to nab a husband, since Lala washed out of college in Michigan and has been spending days in her room, writing novels and radio plays. Lala’s dreaminess is in stark contrast to her cousin, Sunny, in town from Wellesley, where’s she’s simply flourishing.           

In much the manner of Uhry’s most popular play, Driving Miss Daisy, this is a show in which layers unfold and reveal themselves like the languid peeling of an onion. As each layer is revealed, some new characteristic, some new resentment, some new clue about the Levy and Freitag families unfolds. In less capable hands, it could be a nightmarish mish-mash of over-performed emotions and well-worn clichés. Not so at our Main Street.

Artistic Director Rebecca Greene Udden plays Boo Levy, Lala’s mother, with formidable strength, channeling her relentless energy and project management into her daughter, picking, prodding, pushing, and balancing a woman’s love and desire to her child’s success against the societal confines of her day. Acting as a foil to Udden’s Boo is Jim Salners as her brother, Adolph Freitag. The patriarch of the family, head of the family business, he is even-tempered, supportive and self aware. Salners’ performance combines wry wit and great sympathy. 

Dreamy Lala is played with both venom and ditziness by the delightful Liz Cascio. Bethany McCade, as Lala’s cousin Sunny, is stunning in her Main Street debut, offering up a performance that perfectly showcases Sunny’s conflicts of intellectualism and ignorance of her own heritage. Opposite Sunny as Joe Farkas, the man who falls in love with her and pushes her to find out who she is, Jamie Geiger’s Brooklyn accent may be uneven, but his indignation, his heart and his sense of self are gorgeously real.           

At its heart, this play is about a family finding itself. The characters are Jewish and this is very much a show about what it means to be Jewish and, more importantly, what it means to deny that fact in order to get along to with others. Still, these are universal themes. Ayone who’s ever struggled to fit in, to try to be something you’re not, to explain why you believe what you do to others who don’t will recognize himself in the characters on stage.         A play for the ages, this is a not-to-be-missed Main Street tour de force.        

Photo by Ric Ornel Productions:  Liz Cascio, Bethany McCade and Jamie Geiger at MST.

‘FOOLISHNESS’ WITH LARRY PISONI

23 Nov

By NANCY WOZNY 

Larry Pisoni returns to Houston to reprise his role as the fool in Revels Houston’s production of The Christmas Revels, a medieval celebration of the Winter Solstice. Pisoni, a renowned clown, has performed with Circus Flora, Circo Zoppe Internacionale and Cirque du Soleil, and along with such luminary performers as Yo Yo Ma, Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle. He’s the founder of the Pickle Family Circus and is also a nationally known circus educator. Pisoni fills us in on life in the clown lane. 

Nancy Wozny: Can you give us some historical background on the fool in this production? 

Larry Pisoni: The fool would be the guy that showed up on market day to perform for people. He was unkempt, a loner and probably lived in the woods in close proximity to women who were considered healers and witches. He juggled, did acrobatics, a touch of magic – a little bit of everything. He was also probably a little raunchy and bawdy in his humor.  

NW: You were the first fool in The Christmas Revels

LP: Yes, I originated this part in Cambridge in 1996. At first, the character was written with dialogue. I suggested that we perform him mute, which is really my forte, although I am a trained actor. It’s not mime, though. I just don’t speak, so it’s more like a silent movie. The fool can speak, he just chooses not to. At least that is how I am playing it. 

NW: What’s the juicy part of the role for you? 

LP: Well, all Revels plays are celebrations of the Solstice, and I participate in that. But it’s the relationship between the Fool and the King that is intriguing. The King tolerates the Fool and reminds him of his place from time to time. Similarly, the Fool reminds the King that he is mortal. So they have this symbiotic relationship. 

NW:  What keeps you reveling? 

LP: I always enjoy the lovely dancing and music, which is part of every Revels show. I also appreciate the audiences that Revels attracts, which include people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The cast mixes amateurs and professionals, another highlight. 

NW: What brought you into the clown world? 

LP: My grandparents performed in vaudeville shows, my grandfather as a comic and my grandmother as a dancer. She started a dance school that I got dragged to in Long Island, NY. I was the kid in the back who did not want to shuffle off to Buffalo. I learned some acrobatics. What five- or six-year-old wouldn’t want to do that? From ages 7-11, I performed in a comedy and acrobatic act at state fairs. During the 1960s, I audited some acting classes at New York University. I caught the acting bug, and before long I was performing with Geoff Hoyle’s troupe, Circo del Arte. I have since performed with The Pickle Family Circus, Circus Flora, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey, and many other shows. I performed my own solo show, Clown Clown, Clown, Clown, Clown, Clown, Clown, for several years. Oh, and I did one movie, Popeye. It bombed, but still, it was directed by Robert Altman. 

NW: Even a bad movie by Altman is exciting. 

LP: That’s what I thought; he was terribly interesting to watch work. Plus, the screenplay was by Jules Feiffer. 

NW: Can you give us a flash history of clowns? 

LP: I think of a clown as a verb, not a noun. Clowns go back to pre-history as long as humans have been alive. The literary clown goes back to the Greek playwright Menander. The clown tradition that most of us work from today stems from Commedia dell’Arte, more specially Pedrolino, who evolved into Pierrot. Joseph Grimaldi originated the circus clown we are familiar with who wears the wig, garish make-up and outfits. Today, a clown should be able to do a little bit of everything. I trace my roots back to the fool in the marketplace. I am from that lineage. 

NW: Any thoughts about returning to Houston? 

LP: In addition to performing this same Revels show a decade ago, I came here with Circus Flora and with San Francisco Mime Troupe. I met lovely people and I look forward to seeing them all again. 

Larry Pisoni performs in Revels Houston’s The Christmas Revels production on December 12-13 and December 19-20, in the Wortham Theater, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, at the University of Houston campus. Call 713-669-9528 or visit www.revelshouston.org.

 

7 COURSES AT FEARING’S

18 Nov

By JOHN DeMERS

Dallas chef Dean Fearing welcomed me into his new home last night. Well, he’s actually been the face and the name behind Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton for two years now; but after spending a quarter-century associated with the Mansion on Turtle Creek, it’s going to be a while before his new digs start feeling the least bit old. 

One of the “fathers” of New Southwestern Cuisine, or New Texas Cuisine, or whatever somebody decides to call it next, Fearing is respected and celebrated for his food almost daily. Like “Founding Brothers” Robert Del Grande in Houston, Stephan Pyles in Dallas and arguably one or two other chefs, he has the advantage of having given us a brand-new category – one at which he, quite naturally, excels. Now, however, having made the break with his old home and set up a comfortable new one, Fearing doesn’t rely on the same labels anymore. He talks a lot about cooking “without borders,” which (Lou Dobbs notwithstanding) is an immigration reform to be devoutly wished. 

The new place isn’t actually one atmosphere but seven – that’s what Fearing calls them, “atmospheres.” Some inside, some outside. Some more for food, some more for drink. Some more refined and quiet, others like my favorite – called Dean’s Kitchen, strewn about the open, active space of that name – loud and spirited. In the course of a seven-course dinner last night, the soundtrack included Beatles (“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” no less!), Cream, Kinks, Tommy James and the Shondells, and Jimi Hendrix. Since I’m a child of ‘60s music, that’s really excellent for my digestion. 

Fearing’s hyper-talented chef de cuisine Eric Dryer (a Dallas native who spent many years working in California) and wine director Paul Botamer teamed up to produce a menu that just wouldn’t stop – not merely in one thing following another but in one surprise or delight following the one right before. Some of the wine pairings, in particular, were things I’d never tasted or even heard of. Many serious wine guys in Houston could do the same, I’m sure. It’s just they so seldom do. 

Here’s the squeal-filled roller coaster of a menu, along with the wines chosen to showcase each dish perfectly. And let me add that because I sat right by the open kitchen, there was always enough sound and motion to serve as my own personal dinner theater. 

Grade A Big-Eye Tuna Duo: a tartare with sesame sushi rice and shiso/mint puree, plus a sashimi with crushed mango, crystallized ginger and spicy ponzu. Like sushi except with more intriguing flavors. Nicolas Joly Savennieres, Les Trois Sacres 2006 – an intense, golden, almost apple cider-like chenin blanc from France’s Loire Valley. 

Dean’s Tortilla Soup with South of the Border Flavors, described by Fearing as “more like we made back in the kitchen, more Mexican.” Anytime you hear such words, the result will be good, though I doubt they really used to cut the chicken in those tiny, too-perfect white cubes. Becker viognier, Texas, 2008. Still, on a good year, the best viognier I’ve ever tasted. 

Barbecued Shrimp Taco With Mango-Pickled Red Onion Salad and Smoky Citrus Vinaigrette. Already a Fearing’s classic, with some mysterious yarn about supplying the restaurant’s organic ketchup to Sonny Bryan’s BBQ joint in Dallas so they can make the sauce. Domaine Ott Rose from Provence, 2008. Almost wonderful enough to make me ever think of ordering a rose. 

Elephant Trunk Sea Scallops (from near Gloucester, Mass.) With Shredded Short Ribs and Foie Gras/Sweet Potato Puree, Royal Trumpet Mushroom Ragout and Fennel Chips. With several versions of seafood and meat in this dish, the wine was Writer’s Block Counoise 2007 (a lesser known of the 13 grapes in my beloved Chateauneuf-du-Pape), made in California’s Lake Country. 

Smoked Pheasant on Barbecued Cauliflower/Pheasant Chorizo Ragout with Charred Corn Tortilla Wrap and Green Chili Mojo. A sleeper of a dish, not one I would have thought to order. Puts cauliflower in a whole new light – geez, now I have my life’s first cauliflower craving. Robert Foley Charbono, Napa Valley, 2007. Always reminds me of Cher Bono, unfortunately. An Italian grape wiped out of Italy by phylloxera in the 1800s, now grown only in small patches in California. 

Maple/Black Peppercorn Soaked Buffalo Tenderloin on Anson Mills Jalapeno Grits and Crispy Butternut Squash Taquito. Any dish that comes with a taquito is okay with me, especially if it’s this Fearing’s signature.  I just wish they’d call it Bison, because the animal is no more a buffalo than the “Indians” Columbus met were from India. Quinta do Crasto Red, from the Duero in Portugal, 2007. A little-known, meat-friendly wine from an area more famous for its ports. Any port in a storm, I always say. 

Warm Chocolate Caramel Cake with Chocolate Fried Pies and Mike’s “PayDay” Ice Cream. How often in adulthood does anyone give us not one, not two, but three childhood favorites on a single dessert plate? I especially like it when fancy, expensively trained chefs fry me up a pie! Rotta Black Monnuka from Templeton, Calif., 2006. A fortified dessert wine made from a weird Spanish grape now being grown in the Golden State.

INSIDE ‘COLLECTION AUCTIONS’

18 Nov

Morton Kuehnert Auctioneers continues to be on the leading edge of selling Houston families’ treasures during its weekly auctions. What once were deemed “Estate Auctions” have now been transformed into “Collection Auctions” to directly connect sellers and the buyers.

The Collection Auction process begins by discussing with the family the transition that has been the catalyst for selling their possessions. Morton Kuehnert is sensitive to the family’s affection for these items; often there are generations of family memories connected to these treasures. But sell they must. Once they understand the family’s expectations and decide on a timetable, Morton Kuehnert begins to quantify and qualify the items.

That’s when the niche of Collection Auctions emerges. Morton Kuehnert appraisers examine, research and categorize the items. They may include furniture, lighting, decorative arts, china, crystal, silver, jewelry, clothing, musical instruments or classic automobiles. At this point, a dollar estimate of what their items might bring at auction is discussed, along with identifying “collections” for auction. For example, if the client furnished his/her home with Americana cabinet makers from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these pieces will be showcased as a “collection”, although they are normally sold individually.

By presenting the items as a collection, marketing efforts are more strategic. Morton Kuehnert develops an entire marketing plan for its Collection Auctions. It begins with a significant presence on the website and the production and distribution of a four-color photo catalog via direct mail to individual Houston neighborhoods, and at the auction house. Press releases are sent to the local media and the national trades. There is also local and national advertising and on-line bidding through ArtFact.com. This opens up the auction for an international audience.

Last, but not least, there is on-site merchandising at the auction house which will soon be located in the Galleria area at 4901 Richmond and Loop 610. There are many who don’t fancy themselves “collectors,” but once they survey their possessions, it may come as a surprise to see how many of our treasures have transformed into collections. When it’s time for a change, Morton Kuehnert will streamline the process. Morton Kuehnert’s first auction in the new location will be Thursday, January 7th, and every Thursday night thereafter. The official Grand Opening will in March 17th, followed by a Collection Auction on Thursday, March 18th. – Patricia Kuehnert Gillespy and Luis Lopez Morton