With the dynamic talents of rocker Steve Miller, Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson and young cross-over violinist Charles Yang in play, the 2013 Texas Medal of Arts Awards gala morphed from sedate ceremonial evening into a high-voltage concert that had many in the Long Center for the Performing Arts jiving in their seats.
Presented by the Texas Cultural Trust, the biennial salute to Texas talent and cultural leaders honored individuals and entities from across the state, including Austin-based Texas Monthly, which was recognized as Corporate Arts Patron and, two veterans of the popular Desperate Housewives nighttime soap Eva Longoria for Multimedia and Ricardo Chavira for Television, the latter unable to attend.
Any questions that Texas' vast talent pool runs the gamut from the deliciously ridiculous to the sublime were firmly put to rest with the cross-section of artists spotlighted including award recipients fine art sculptor James Surls and Greater Tuna talents Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. Add the Art Guys, brought in for entertainment purposes, wearing white jumpsuits covered in cymbals. They clashed against one another as the "William Tell Overture" blasted from a boom box. And then there was the dashing emcee, Dallas native Chris Harrison, host of ABC's The Bachelor.
The jolt of energy to the evening was provided by award recipient Miller, who performed his "Fly Like an Eagle" and "Abracadabra. "
Garnering much of the red carpet attention before the tented dinner and the ceremony that followed in the theater were Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NFL great and Dancing With the Stars champ Emmitt Smith (accompanied by his glam wife Pat). They, along with close friend T. Boone Pickens, introduced award recipients Gene Jones (wife of Jerry) and daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson, recognized for their inspiration and guidance with the Dallas Cowboys Stadium art program. The duo received the Individual Arts Patrons Award.
"We wanted more than a football stadium," Gene said of the 50 pieces of contemporary art that fill the sports facility. "Our dream was to bring sports and art together and provide more exposure for both."
Rounding out the contingent of award recipients were Houston Ballet for Dance, Dallas-based Big Thought and director Gigi Antoni for Arts Education and the Kimball Art Foundation as Foundation Arts Patron.
The jolt of energy to the evening was provided by award recipient Miller, who performed his "Fly Like an Eagle" and "Abracadabra" with 2011 Medal of Arts recipient Benson in one set and then joined Benson and Yang, who had his own stirring performance earlier, in the finale performance of Buddy Miles' blues classic "Texas."
Among the 1,000 guest were honorary chairs Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Tricia Dewhurst, a member of the Texas Cultural Trust board; board chair Karen Oswalt; Long Center namesakes Teresa and Joe Long; art force Suzanne Deal Booth; University of Texas president Bill Powers' assistant Nancy Brazzil; recently transplanted Houstonian Mica Mosbacher; State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte; government affairs specialist Dean McWilliams and wife Andrea; Texas Association of Business CEO Bill Hammond; Travis Democratic Party chair Andy Brown; Amanda Fox; and Marion and James Bell.