curatorial department of the DMA. To say that she remains active is an understatement. She flies to New York with museum curators to inspect works for purchase, communicates her expectations to board members (“When I took my job, she called me over to her chair, and said, ‘I want you to know who the boss is,’” John Eagle recalls with a smile) and insists that at the institution’s annual Art Ball fundraiser, the evening’s gala chair escort her through the galleries to preview new exhibitions.
“Of course, you’re running around like your hair’s on fire, but when Mrs. McDermott arrives, you have to stop whatever else you’re doing,” says former Houstonite Suzanne Droese, who now lives in Dallas with her architect husband, David. Suzanne is a worker bee on the young charity circuit, having chaired both the Art Ball and the equally glitzy Cattle Baron’s Ball. (This fall she will cochair the annual Two x Two benefit at the Rachofskys’ house, which will feature a well-stocked art auction—last year’s boasted a rare Marlene Dumas painting—and in its 11-year history has raised $25 million for amfAR and the DMA.)
The Dallas art scene’s junior crowd also includes art dealer John Runyon and his wife, Lisa, who, like Suzanne Droese, is doing what’s expected in this social setting—she’s chairing next year’s Art Ball. Elsewhere around town the most shocking art belongs to Kenny Goss, a Texas native, who, with his partner, George Michael—yes, that George Michael—collects once Young British Artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and the Chapman brothers. At the moment the loudest “Have you seen it?” buzz surrounds an art-filled Philip Johnson mansion lavishly restored by Naomi Aberly, the most prominent Obama supporter in a community of rock-ribbed Republicans, and her husband, Larry Lebowitz, a hedge fund manager. And in the same swanky Preston Hollow neighborhood, the Eagles reside in a flat-roofed tropical-style villa designed by noted modernist architect Edward Durell Stone and hung with works by Elizabeth Peyton, Mark Bradford and Sigmar Polke—the last of which they share, yes, with the Rachofskys.
Though not a serious collector, Lucy Billingsley, a tough-minded, second-generation real-estate developer, has made her own substantial investment in the Arts District with One Arts Plaza, the first major new building erected downtown since the real-estate crash of the late Eighties. (It houses 61 condos, along with trendy restaurants and the corporate headquarters of 7-Eleven.) Billingsley, by her reckoning, is a fifth-generation Texan, and she counts her late father, Trammell Crow, as one of the outsize, almost heroic figures who threw their energies into building downtown after WWII, at a time when, she says, Dallas was an insignificant place where “two railroads crossed.”