The Empress Of Dress

Franci Neely, Noted Philanthropist, Shows Support for Houston Art Exhibition

Based in Houston, Texas, at one point in her career Franci Neely was a corporate attorney. All told, she worked diligently for over two decades, eventually becoming a partner at the esteemed firm of Susman Godfrey, LLP. That firm has offices in a wide range of major cities, so to say that it would be the “dream come true” of most people is a bit of an understatement.

But for Franci Neely, something was missing. She decided to retire and focus on her true passion: the arts. It’s a trend in her life that is absolutely continuing as she is about to celebrate a new Houston Art Exhibition at the Menil Collection.

Franci Neely and The Menil Collection: Breaking Things Down

The art exhibit in question is called “Art of the Cameroon Grassfields: A Living Heritage in Houston.” It’s currently on display at the museum and runs through July 9, 2023. It opened with a striking question and answer session with Cameroonian artist Herve Youmbi. Attendees were treated to not only Youmbi’s unique perspective on creativity, art, and life, but also his art displays like the various masks, royal stools, and sculptures that he has created over the years. All told, it was an excellent way for people to learn more about this cultural heritage, which in many ways is what art is all about.

It goes without saying that a generous financial contribution from Franci Neely was one of the elements that made this exhibit possible in the first place. Since retiring from corporate law, she’s been a strong supporter in the arts – particularly when it comes to the Houston creative community. In addition to her various philanthropic activities, she’s also the co-chair for the Art of the Islamic Worlds subcommittee at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. She also sits on the board of trustees at The Menil Foundation itself.

Another example of Neely’s commitment to the arts throughout the area has to do with her position as a board member of the Moody Center for the Arts, otherwise known as MCA for short.

In a lot of ways, creativity and the arts has always been a big part of Franci Neely’s DNA. Many years ago, she wanted to pursue a career as an actor. However, she also had a burning desire to be able to support herself financially – which is why she ended up with a career in the legal field. She decided that it was still performing, only now she was doing so in court as opposed to on the stage.

As soon as she retired from practicing law, she formed her first foundation to help continue what she was so enthusiastic about: supporting the arts in any way that she could. This included not only the performing arts but also the literary and visual arts as well.

It was at that time that she became one of the founders of the Houston Cinema Arts Society, otherwise known as HCAS for short. They put together a film festival in Houston each year that showcases films made by native Texans.

Anyone who is in the Houston area prior to July 9, 2023 is encouraged to stop by the Menil Collection and see “Art of the Cameroon Grassfields: A Living Heritage in Houston” for themselves.

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