Party scene with a group of individuals dressed in various Alice in Wonderland costumes. Decorative backdrop resembling a forest.

The Wonder Ball 2024 Recap

Fresh Arts’ Annual Gala Took Guests Down the Rabbit Hole of Houston’s Vibrant Arts Culture

This magical night was filled with off-the-wall entertainment and inspiring support from attendees who raised critical funds to advance Fresh Arts’ mission. 

HOUSTON (February  21,  2024) Fresh Arts, a nonprofit that empowers local artists through its resources, skill-building programs and community connections, hosted its 2024 gala, The Wonder Ball, on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at Silver Street Studios. Attendees were dazzled by extraordinary performances, breathtaking decor and a lively dance party for all. Proceeds raised from the gala will go toward the nonprofit’s annual operating funds as well as supporting its long-anticipated return to officing at Winter Street Studios following the devastating building fire in 2022.

The Fresh Arts gala is known for being one of the most exhilarating and engaging galas of the year and this year did not disappoint. At the top of the night, guests were invited to explore the wonderland of artworks available as part of the silent auction while also enjoying champagne and lively conversation. Following the showcase, guests took their seats for this year’s exciting new experience, The Wonder Ball Dinner Party, which featured dishes by local favorite Hungry’s. Live entertainment from The Charlie Trio Band and whimsical decor provided by Art Attack added to the magical atmosphere of the party. The evening’s live auction and fundraising appeal, hosted by Houston radio personality Sarah Pepper, raised over $15,000 and included a trip to Paris donated by Cindy and Paul Canatella. The enchanting night continued with an epic dance party featuring interactive games and captivating arts performances.  A towering 10-foot “Red Queen” stilt performer guided guests down the rabbit hole to the bubble-filled dance party, produced by GTX Productions and DJ’ed by DJ Hiram, featuring an exhilarating dance-off led by Leandre Douglas.

Fresh Arts is proud to have collaborated this year with Janice Bond, the visionary owner and director of ART IS BOND Contemporary Art Gallery, to reimagine the Art Auction experience. The partnership showcased a curated selection of pieces by the gallery, highlighting the incredible talent of local artists and elevating diverse perspectives. In line with Fresh Arts’ mission to support local artists, a portion of the art sales will be split with participating artists.

“After last year’s record-breaking Ball, we knew it was time to turn it up a notch with The Wonder Ball,” said Angela Carranza, executive director of Fresh Arts. “Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our co-chairs and sponsors, The Wonder Ball transported guests into a world of wonder and imagination. Every detail spoke to the power of imagination, and our supporters wholeheartedly embraced the theme, showcasing an impressive diversity of creativity.”

Event chairs Eva Sagisaka and Morgan Holleman, and Merry and Palmer Schooley welcomed partygoers with their own show-stopping outfits including Fresh Arts Founder, Marita Fairbanks dressed as the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, a one-of-a-kind creation of local artist and designer Kasi Kubiak. The evening’s honorees were Ruby Rivera, founder of Texas Salsa Congress, and Theresa W. Chang, a Houston-based commissioner serving on the Texas Commission on the Arts. This commission oversees the state-wide cultural district program, which supports Arts District Houston, powered by Fresh Arts, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a cultural district this year.

 

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WONDER BALL SPONSORS

Notable gala sponsors included: Steve and Kate Gibson (Arts Champion), Colleen Dippel + Jennifer Ducote, Michael Crawford, and Commissioner Theresa Chang (Artist Underwriters), PaperCity Houston, Hungry’s (Presenting Catering sponsor), Art Attack (Presenting Decor sponsor), LALO Tequila, Betelgeuse Betelgeuse Bar & Pizza, Boheme, 8th Wonder Brewery + Distillery, Chapelton Vineyards, My Drink Bomb, Wonder Pops HTX, Powers Brown Architecture (Bar sponsor), Hightower Texas (Photography sponsor), MOLLYXNIKO and Winston & Strawn LLP (Entertainment sponsors), Fleato (Silent Auction provider) and GTX Productions.

ABOUT FRESH ARTS

Fresh Arts, a 501(C)3 nonprofit corporation, empowers local artists through programs that build knowledge, amplify local resources, and connect communities. Our programs include career-building and mentorship support, free online resources, fiscal sponsorship for artist-led projects, the Space Taking Artist Residency, and public art projects commissioned through the management of Arts District Houston, a state-recognized arts and culture district. For more information, visit www.fresharts.org.