The Art of Business
Quarterly Luncheon Series in Houston

This series was born of a desire to provide Houston's business professionals with a forum in which to showcase their personal passion for arts-related projects while sharing a scrumptious meal with like-minded individuals.  The events are open to everyone, with reservations handled through the French American Chamber of Commerce. 

Thanks for visiting,

Meril Markley

Our second quarter luncheon in May will feature Sergei Galperin, member of the First Violin Section of the Houston Symphony.  It will be held on May 17 at Chef Soren Pedersen's (2314 Dunlavy).  Click here to register.




We thank RSM US LLP and its Houston office leader, Tom Rourick, for his commitment to this project at the crossroads of culture and commerce in Houston.  Constance Bost, outgoing Executive Director of the French American Chamber of Commerce was our unflagging advocate in promoting the events and spurring participation by members of the Chamber.  We are grateful that her successor, Joana Videgain, and Geoffroy Petit, President of the Chamber, continue to champion these events.  On the heels of the Habsburg Splendor exhibits in the U.S.of works from the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, its International Friends organization is our third sponsor, with the enthusiastic support of the museum's General Director, Dr. Sabine Haag, its Director of Communications, Florian Pollack, and the head of the Friends initiative, Baerbel Holaus.  We are very grateful to KHM for permitting us to use paintings from its collection as cover art for the programs.


Photos and links to the programs for each of the past luncheons


For the first quarter of 2018, our speaker was Dr. Rebecca Rabinow, Director of the Menil Collection, for a luncheon held at Restaurant Cinq in the Colombe D'or Hotel.  Entitled, The Menil at Thirty, Rebecca recounted the history of the Collection as well as Dominique and John de Menil's eary days in Houston as transplants from France.  She also told us of how her passion for art was kindled by time spent as an intern at the Menil Collection shortly after the museum opened.  After 26 years as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Rebecca returned to Houston in 2016 to lead the Menil Collection.  Click here to download the program.



Geoffroy Petit, Meril Markley, Rebecca Rabinow, Nancy Wakefield


Rebecca Rabinow Presentation
Geoffroy Petit Introduction Consul General Andres and Andrius Kontrimas

Our fourth quarter 2017 luncheon was on, November 28, and featured Shanna Hennig of Winston Art Group.  It was held at Chef Soren Pedersen's in the Montrose area.  Entitled Smart Art -- Best Practices for Acquiring, Managing, and Planning for Collections, Shanna presentation included her experiences in helping ith all aspects of collections, of everything from fine art to wines, to classic cars.  Click here to download the program.

Shanna Hennig - Winston Art Group
Shanna Hennig

Shanna Hennig combines an extensive background in finance and insurance with a life-long passion for the arts. Through multiple roles in industry segments ranging from art title insurance to fine art appraisal, Shanna has established a professional focus on supporting collectors and their trusted advisors in managing clientsí alternative assets. As Winston Art Groupís Southwest Director, Shanna manages a multi-state territory that stretches through the Rocky Mountains to Texas.

Shanna holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Christian University, a Certificate of Fine Art Appraisal from The University of California, Irvine, is certified in Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, and is a member of the Appraiserís Association of America. Shanna is highly involved in the local arts and business communities. She is a member of the Dallas and Denver Estate Planning Councils, Denver Art Museum Contemporary Alliance Board of Directors, Menil Contemporaries, MFAH Museum Collectors.





On Wednesday, September 27, prize-winning author, Ann Weisgarber, was our speaker on Taking a Novel Approach to Business at a luncheon held at Smith & Wollensky in Highland Village.  Click here to download the program.

Ann Weisgarber

Ann is the author of three historical novels.  In getting the first one published, she overcame numerous hurdles such as finding a literary agent and a publisher willing to take on an unknown writer.  She also learned how little say an author has in matters such as cover art and type face. This first novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, is set in the South Dakota Badlands in 1917 and was born of a haunting photograph Ann spotted in a local museum.  It won the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction.  JuVee Productions has optioned the film rights and Viola Davis will play Rachel DuPree.  Filming is scheduled for 2018.  
Annís second novel, The Promise, takes place in 1900 on Galveston Island at the time of the Great Hurricane, Americaís worst natural disaster.  The book was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, leading to a trip to Scotland and a stay in a castle.  
Several of us finished reading The Promise just before Hurricane Harvey devasted the Gulf Coast.  We were haunted  by its characters and Ann's vivid depiction of the 1900 storm.  Lovers of classical music will be enchanted by Ann's ability to express throughout this book the impact of music on both performer and audience.  She is currently winding up work on The Glovemaker, which will be published in 2018. It is set in Utahís deep canyon country during the winter of 1888.


Meril Markley, Ann Weisgarber, Tom Rourick, Joana Videgain

Welcoming Remarks

Storm at Sea by Jan Bruegel the Younger From the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

On Thursday, May 4, we welcomed opera superstar, Albina Shagimuratova, back to Houston for a luncheon at the Tasting Room in Uptown Park entitled The Art of Being an Opera Singer--


Albina shared what's involved with running the business of being an opera singer in a changing world while balancing her career and spending time with her family.  
enchanting coloratura soprano first found international acclaim in 2007 when she won the Gold Medal in the Vocal Division of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Soon after, she made her European opera debut as the Queen of the night in Mozartís The Magic Flute at the Salzburg Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Riccardo Muti. Established as the leading interpreter of this fiendishly challenging role, she has performed it in other venues including Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala Milan (released on DVD), Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, , Bolshoi Theatre, Los Angeles Opera, and Houston Grand Opera.
Albina was appearing at Houston Grand Opera as Konstanze in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, a work commissioned by Habsburg Emperor Joseph II whose portrait is our featured work from the Kunsthistorisches Museum and whose descendant, Princess Maria Anna Galitzine, was among the guests at the luncheon.
Click here to download the program. 

Albina Shagimuratova

Registration and Networking

The Tasting Room (Uptown Park)

Andrew Pidgirsky, Albina Shagimuratova,
Princess Maria-Anna Galitzine, Meril Markley

Lunch (including Houston's best burger)

Albina Shagimuratova

Emperor Joseph II in Conversation with Archduke Leopold of Tuscany by Pompeo Batoni
From the Collection of the
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna


Our luncheon on Friday, March 3, 2017 was held in connection with the inaugural visit to Houston of --

 Making Your Passion for Art into a Successful Business

Our speaker was Sebastien Laboureau, International Art Curator, whose earlier career included investment banking at Goldman Sachs.  Click here to download the program.

Luncheon at the Winter Street Studios
(catered by Le Mistral)

Sebastien Laboureau

Sebastien Laboreau leading a tour of the exhibit

The Collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
by David Teniers
From the Collection of the
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna


Striking the Right Chord When Safeguarding Your Brand with Bruce Patterson, Intellectual Property Lawyer and Founding Partner of Patterson & Sheridan, who not only recounted his efforts on behalf of Taylor Guitars but played one of his own guitars for us (December 6, 2016 at Artisans Cuisine et Savoir Faire).  Click to download the program.

Bruce Patterson

Portrait of a Young Man with a Lira di Braccio
(Unknown 16th Century Venetian Artist) from the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna


Guardians of the Digital Galaxy, featuring Gregory Servos, President of Ovation Data Services, Inc. (September 13, 2016 at Masraff's).  Click to download the program.  Gregory recounted how his efforts at helping oil companies to find a common computer language for preserving their valuable libraries of seismic information led to helping film museums and television networks preserve their cultural heitage for future generations.

Gregory Servos 

The Tower of Babel (1563) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
From the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna


Looted, Lost and Stolen Art featuring Andrius Kontrimas of Norton Rose Fulbright law firm (June 7, 2016 at Hotel Granduca).  Click to download the program.  Veteran international tax lawyer, Andrius Kontrimas, recounted how his early experience in probating an estate involving works of art led to a lifelong interest in helping to restitute works taken in the run-up to World War II, during the war itself, and in its aftermath behind the Iron Curtain.

Andrius Kontrimas

Hotel Granduca

The Art of Painting (c. 1667) by Johannes Vermeer
From the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Meril Markley, Andrius Kontrimas, Tom Rourick

No Time Toulouse -- The Origins of Modern Corporate Governance in Medieval France by Meril Markley of RSM US LLP and M. Markley Antiques (March 30, 2016 at Etoile Cuisine et Bar).  Click to download the program and a copy of the presentation.  Meril Markley told of discovering quite by accident, while preparing a speech on Sarbanes Oxley in 2004, that the first modern corporation had been founded as a power generation company in the 13th century in southwestern France.  It survived for more than 600 hundred years owing to a system of corporate governance which kept in check the impulses that led to the demise of Enron.

Etoile Cuisine et Bar 

Meril Markley

With special thanks to the following --

Joanna Videgain (FACC)

Geoffroy Petit (FACC)

Tom Rourick (RSM US LLP)

Constance Bost (FACC)

Dr. Sabine Haag (KHM) and Barry Margolis (RSM)


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