It had never happened before in the great state of Texas, let alone the city of Houston, and for a moment it seemed like it almost wouldn’t happen for “A Night in the Sky”the 3rd Annual Gala benefiting the Denali Foundation…but the audience gasped as world renowned highline artist Faith Dickey pulled herself out of a wobbly start to successfully walk the slackline suspended high over guests’ heads between the columns of The Corinthian in Downtown Houston. Her stunning triumph over her fear was the perfect pinnacle to the emotionally charged and mission-driven evening celebrating the intersection between adventure and art in line with the foundation’s unique mission and programming.
Honorary Chair Joanne King Herring joined Gala Co-Chairs Beth Wolff and Gregg Harrison on the stage to share her poignant insights into overcoming fear and pursuing adventure in her own storied life. Her Southern charm and vivid imagery comparing the peaks and valleys of seemingly insurmountable mountains to the personal struggles we each overcome held the audience in thrall and truly spoke to the mission of the Denali Foundation.
The evening’s engaging emcee from KPRC Channel 2, Andy Cerota, shared the moving story of how the world lost two brave men, a father and a son, on the mountain K2 in 2013. The son, Denali Schmidt, was an adventurer, but most of all, he was an artist and saw the world through a unique lens. Following his tragic death, Denali’s sister, Sequoia, founded the organization in her brother’s name to celebrate the intersection between art and adventure and to continue Denali’s legacy as an artist. New York based artist Sabin Howard, commissioned to create the new World War I Memorial in Washington DC, was honored as the artist of the year and connected his work telling the story of our humanity to Denali’s experience as an adventurer and artist.
Members of Houston Assistance League and Board Member George Connelly, Jr. were on hand to celebrate how the support of generous donors has enabled their partnership with the Denali Foundation to provide art supplies for underserved schools in the local community. The foundation was also pleased to share the next steps in the development of an art and educational facility Nepal to benefit the global community started with the help of Houstonians from last year’s gala. In partnership with the Saraf Foundation, the Denali Foundation will help to build the facility for the Himalayan Museum & Sustainable Park. The facility will empower the foundation to further its mission by sending local artists to Nepal to bring back programming and curricula combining art, adventure and the upcycling of waste for ecological sustainability to schools and children in Houston and beyond.
The intimate crowd of 240 guests, including Maria & Neil Bush, Leslie & Dan Hassen, Caroline & Gary Kenney, HISD Board President - Wanda Adams, Consul General of Latvia - Steve Payne, Tracy & Harry Faulkner, Dana Kervin, Miya Shay, and 2016 Artist of the Year - Graydon Parrish, delighted in the fine fare provided by Jackson Hicks Catering and grooved to tunes courtesy of DJ Luny C from LA. The incredible auction items included a trek to Mount Everest base camp, gorgeous custom earrings by private jeweler Peter Martino, signed photo of Willie Nelson, and modern art masterpiece created on site by local artist Taft McWhorter.
Stay tuned for more information about how support of this incredible event will help expand the minds of young artists here at home and around the globe as we will continue to update with information about the foundation's programs! Thank you, again, Houston!
2017 Denali Foundation Gala Hosts & Honorees
Sequoia Di Angelo
Joanne King Herring
The Munisteri Family
Scott & Brenda Mitchell
Leslie Wall Hassen
Lauren M. Postler