We had the good fortune of connecting with Heidi Vaughan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Heidi Vaughan Fine Art is a gallery dedicated to supporting and exhibiting the work of Texas artists with an emphasis on those based in Houston. Organically, we have come to represent diverse voices in our community. Our artists, the majority of whom are women, reflect the diversity of the community. Our artists are generally mid-career, and many of them have their work in museum, corporate, and important private collections. We endeavor to offer the best local art through our exhibitions. We also offer opportunities for learning through our regular educational programs featuring artist and collector talks. In addition, we are credentialed appraisers who value works of art for individual, corporate, and institutional clients including museums. Through this work we come in contact with fine art objects which may be available for sale. Our secondary market art brokerage is a significant part of our business, as is sourcing art for our clients.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When I first set out to get my Master’s Degree in Art History at the University of Houston, it was my goal to work at an art museum. While I had done professional volunteer work at three of the major art museums in town, when it came time to find a job, I couldn’t get even one interview at a museum. I think it may be because I had a lapse in employment for 20 years. My professional background was with an international public relations agency in Chicago, where I worked with major national brands and campaigns. But once I had children, I withdrew from the workforce to be a full-time wife and mother. My children grew up and I eventually divorced. I had the time and desire for a significant career. In addition to earning an advanced art history degree, I decided to also become a credentialed fine art appraiser at the advice of Dr. Rex Koontz at UH. It was good advice. I found there was a real need in Houston. The first major project I got was with British Petroleum. Through that experience, in which I worked with nearly 1,500 works of art in BP’s corporate collection, I got involved in fine art liquidation. That led to private art brokerage and pop-up shows. It wasn’t easy, but I had no better offers than what I created for myself. After Hurricane Harvey, I put on a fundraiser called Texas Treasures with about 100 works of art available. Robert McClain, who owns McClain Gallery, loaned me his warehouse. We sourced art from seven of Houston’s top art galleries and my private clients. Through that show, we raised significant funds for Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts. In sourcing art for the sale, I met Sandy Parkerson, who owned Parkerson Gallery. Like me, he specialized in art appraisal, valuation, and secondary market art brokerage. He’d been at it since the 1980s. Following his retirement, I acquired his gallery on 3510 Lake Street at Colquitt in the Upper Kirby Galleries. I’ve owned it since 2018. While Sandy didn’t represent artists, I am happy to say I do. I still do the appraisal, valuation, and brokerage work, and put together an occasional pop up, too.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I regularly give advice to people visiting Houston who want to see great art. My list includes the art museums, of which there are many outstanding ones. My favorites are the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (the brand new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is dedicated to Modern and Contemporary art and is a real asset to the city), The Menil Collection, including the Cy Twombly Gallery and the Rothko Chapel, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Station Museum, and the Blaffer Art Museum. There are others. I also recommend the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on the Rice University campus (check their website to know when to arrive – there is a light show daily at dusk), the annual Art Car Parade, the Upper Kirby Galleries, the art galleries at 4411 Montrose Boulevard, Hiram Butler Gallery, and Inman Gallery, to name several good ones. As the Chairman of the Houston Arts Foundation, I would be remiss in not mentioning Houston’s great public art collection. It’s comprised of significant works of art spread throughout the city. The University of Houston and Rice University also have great public art collections. One could spend days just trying to see them all. By walking at Buffalo Bayou Park and around Hermann Park, you could get exercise and see great art from around the world. For a non-art activity that’s especially fun with children, I suggest watching the bats come out at night from Waugh Street bridge. I prefer the view from on top of the bridge to below it, but both are exciting. The Houston Zoo is one of the top zoos in the country. The landscaping there is really just as good as the animals. For exercise I regularly walk at the Houston Arboretum and Memorial Park. Both are well-maintained and beautiful. If you’re willing to drive a bit, Brazos Band State Park is exotic. There are alligators all over the park and they are not in cages. My kids and I once counted 63 alligators on one walk. It’s best to go when the temperature is cool and the sun is very warm. Regarding food, Houston has a great reputation for its restaurants. My favorites are Liberty Kitchen, State of Grace, Tiny Boxwoods, and Brasserie 19.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a Shoutout to the University of Houston School of Art, where I received a Masters Degree in Art History. There I was able to deepen my art knowledge while I worked on a thesis concerned with Houston art education at Mid-Century. I learned all about the local art scene as a result. At the same time I reached out to Gus Kopriva. He owns Redbud Gallery in the Heights and is deeply engaged with the UH School of Art. Gus has been my mentor ever since and I’d like to give a Shoutout to him, too. We have been working on a book together that will be published in 2021. It’s called Liebesgedichte, which means love poems in English. Through the book, Gus and I fostered collaborations between 60 artists and poets on the theme of love. While the participants are from all around the world, most of them have some connection to Houston. Through these projects I got to know a number of people engaged with the Houston art scene. It made me realize how much I wanted to honor, support, and promote the art being made in my own community. The fact that I now represent 20 Houston artists at my gallery is a direct result of these experiences.
Linkedin: Heidi Vaughan
Twitter: @HeidiArt66 or Heidi Vaughan Fine Art
Facebook: Heidi Vaughan Fine Art
Yelp: Heidi Vaughan Fine Art
Youtube: Heidi Vaughan Fine Art
Other: We are a member of the Upper Kirby Galleries and the Houston Art Gallery Association
Group portrait photo credit: Hillerbrand + Magsamen