Monday, July 11, 2011

Art & Inspiration: Houston Art Gallery Supports Local Lecture Programs

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

The most effective initiatives often utilize the appeal of popular social events to inspire and motivate community development. Houston’s Wade Wilson Art Gallery is doing just that: leveraging the vibrant art community to support nonprofit programs. Founded by longtime art critic and enthusiast Wade Wilson in 2006, the gallery is located in the city’s historic Montrose area. Wade Wilson Art Gallery showcases painters, photographers and sculptors whose work “reflects current movements in international art circles”.

 “Houston has an extraordinary art community and a great community period,” Wilson said. “It’s rare that you’ll ask someone to step up and they don’t - that’s what I love about philanthropy in this town.”

Wade Wilson,
Owner of Wade Wilson Art Gallery

Photo courtesy of Wade Wilson
Wade Wilson Art Gallery is one of many supporters of the Brilliant Lecture Series, a Houston-based non-profit organization whose aim is to motivate and inspire by presenting national and international leaders, role models, philanthropists, artists, humanitarians, authors, and entrepreneurs. 

Scott Brogan, Founding Director of the Brilliant Lecture Series, said the organization accomplishes this goal through its educational programs, including an International Youth Leadership Exchange, the Brill Talks in-school interactive dialogues, and the quarterly Conversation with… series. Previous speakers include international luminaries Diana Ross, Sir Sidney Poitier, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Global Colors Founder Barton Brooks and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan to name just a few.

“We provide a unique forum in Houston that integrates education and entertainment without social or political agenda,” Brogan said. “The young and the young at heart come from across the United States and around the world to share these rare and candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the world.”

The collaboration was launched when Wilson and Brogan were introduced by mutual colleagues. Both shared the belief that one person can initiate change, and are committed to inspiring and motivating people to achieve their goals.

Most recently, the two organizations collaborated to host an educational program focused on Haiti at the Wade Wilson Art Gallery. Wilson said he has been especially impressed with the school-based inspirational lecture programs of Brilliant Lecture Series, and how the speakers really impart the idea that one idea and one person can change the world.

“That sort of empowerment can create a level of confidence that doesn’t exist in many students these days,” Wilson said. “That’s the beauty of the Brilliant Lecture Series: it inspires people to be better, to do better with what they have, and to try to stretch beyond their limitations.”

Scott Brogan,
Founding Director of
Brilliant Lecture Series

 Photo courtesy of Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel
 Scott Brogan launched the Brilliant Lecture Series in 2005 after recognizing the lack of opportunity most have to hear from and speak with such influential people. “If our speakers came to Houston, most of them spoke at private, black-tie events.  At such events, these icons of our society are not sharing the unique journey of their life but are telling the dinner guests how wonderful they are for attending the event and supporting that particular cause,” he said.  He found that these events, while worthwhile, are not accessible to most people, especially our youth who need to hear from these role models now more than ever.

“Prior to the Brilliant Lecture Series, there was a huge disconnect between their powerful stories and the people that need to be in the room to hear and receive those messages,” Brogan said. The former political strategist decided to leverage his connections to address this need and ensure that these types of stories were shared.

For Wilson, this collaboration with his art gallery allows him to continue his support of local organizations. During his career in the arts, Wilson has helped to support fundraisers generating over eight million dollars for community initiatives since moving to Houston in 2000. Wilson asserts these community involvements efforts have been mutually beneficial. “Corporate support for programs like this is invaluable,” he emphasized. “It helps me to be a part of something bigger and engages the community I want to engage.”

For both Wilson and Brogan, this partnership effectively merges the creativity of the art world with the inspirational stories of people who manifested their basic ideas into global movements.

“I really love the idea that we’re changing the public’s vision of people who are changing the world,” Wilson said.

Brilliant Lecture Series will host an evening with Dr. Maya Angelou on Thursday, September 22nd. To purchase tickets or sponsor this program, visit the organization's website or call (713) 974-1335.

To receive notices about events at Wade Wilson Art, subscribe to the gallery’s mailing list

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